Tony Miller

Lucas County, Ohio
Date of Crime:  December 14, 1983

Morgan A. “Tony” Miller was convicted of armed robbery and assault following the robbery of an Arby's restaurant at 1455 Secor Road in Toledo, during which an off-duty police officer named James Snead was shot.  Miller had been in the restaurant minutes before the robbery with two friends and even spoke to an employee who knew him and was leaving work.  Although the robber wore a stocking mask, Miller was charged with the crime after three witnesses identified him as the robber.  One of the witnesses said he got a look at the robber before he put on his mask.  Another claimed that she saw the robber's face when he briefly lifted up his mask.

Miller said during an interview that there is “no way that a real criminal would drive his own car up to a restaurant, talk to a waitress that works there and 30 seconds later rob the place and not expect to get caught.”  He added, “I'm not crazy.”  The restaurant employees believed the same person had robbed the restaurant twice before.

A month after Miller's arrest, another man, Joseph Clark, was arrested on multiple murder charges and during police questioning he confessed to robbing the restaurant three separate times including the Dec. 14, 1983 robbery for which Miller was charged.  In regard to this robbery Clark maintained he shot Officer Snead after Snead shot at him first.  Police said Clark's confession was false because Snead told them he never fired a weapon.  Clark later retracted his confession for this robbery, but not for the other robberies.

Both Clark and Miller were black males who had similar, although not identical, facial features.  Both were about 5'4" in height and both weighed about 140 lbs.  Because of these similarities, it would appear the witness identifications were mistaken.  At Miller's trial the defense planned to call Clark as a witness, but the judge would not allow him to be called after Clark said he would avoid testifying by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  Clark's presence at trial would have helped the defense by allowing the jury to see how similar he looked to Miller.  Also, Clark's refusal on the witness stand to deny that he was the robber would likely raise doubt in the jurors' minds regarding Miller's guilt.  A detective at trial happened to mention Clark's confession, but the judge instructed the jury to disregard this testimony.

Miller had his two friends to provide alibi testimony, but at the time of trial one was at sea in the Navy and never got the court issued subpoena for his appearance or the airline tickets sent to him by Miller's family.  The other friend had been convicted of armed robbery 13 years before and the jury presumably used this fact to disregard his testimony.

The case was later featured on a TV broadcast of Unsolved Mysteries which showed a picture of Clark alongside that of Miller.  Following the broadcast, a prosecution witness, who was never asked to identify Miller, recognized Clark as the man he saw running from the restaurant.  He had noticed that the robber had a pockmarked complexion like Clark and said that had he known that Miller's skin was smooth, he would have testified that Miller could not have been the robber.

Miller filed an appeal that included this witness's identification, and in Dec. 1992 the Sixth District Court of Appeals overturned his convictions.  In regard to Clark, the Court ruled that Miller's trial judge had “no power to prohibit a witness from taking the stand based solely on the knowledge that the witness will refuse to testify.”  Miller was released from imprisonment after the prosecution declined to retry him.  [4/10]

References:  Toledo Blade, TB#2, Unsolved Mysteries

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Western Ohio Cases