|Nickie Miller files federal suit
Senior Advocate writer
A man who once spent two years in jail facing the possibility of the death penalty for the alleged murder of Paul Brewer has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was framed.
Nickie Miller, 56, of Stanton, claims that the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and prosecutors engaged in a scheme to convict him of murder by falsifying evidence and withholding exculpatory evidence.
Authorities say Brewer was found shot twice in the bed at his apartment on Natalie Drive in 2011.
Named as defendants in the suit are Montgomery County Sheriff Fred Shortridge, current and former detectives Ralph Charles Jr. and Mark Collier, along with jailer Eric Jones, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Keith Craycraft and Kentucky State Police polygraph examiner John Fyffe. Collier is no longer with the sheriff’s office.
Miller is represented by the Chicago, Ill., law firm of Loevy and Loevy.
The firm was sent a notice from a court clerk this week notifying it that there were no records indicating their attorneys’ admission to practice in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky.
The three attorneys for the firm—Elliott Slosar, Arthur Loevy and Jon Loevy—were later granted admission.
“Plaintiff suffered the severe injustice of being framed for a crime he did not commit while battling cancer. The defendants’ misconduct had a profound impact on plaintiff’s ability to receive proper medical treatment, including chemotherapy while incarcerated,” the suit claims.
Much of the suit centers on an alleged confession given by Natasha Martin that reportedly implicated Miller and Cody Hall in the murder.
Charges have since been dismissed against Miller and Hall without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled. Martin is still charged with robbery and murder and faces the possibility of the death penalty, if convicted.
The suit claims that Fyffe coerced a false confession from Martin, who previously said she had no first-hand knowledge of the case.
Authorities claim they have further evidence that substantiates what Martin told them, the Advocate previously reported.
The suit also accuses Fyffe of inappropriately touching Martin and using “psychologically coercive interrogation techniques” during the course of gaining her alleged confession.
Martin, the suit claims, simply repeated the suggested information reportedly implicating Miller and Hall, who was her husband at the time of the alleged murder.
Fyffe, the suit adds, allegedly promised Martin that she could go free if she just agreed to go along with the false statement.
The suit claims that Jones also participated in the allegedly fraudulent scheme by offering undisclosed promises of consideration to Martin to procure her cooperation against Miller.
Prior to the alleged confession, the suit claims that Charles threatened Martin that she needed to think about “those three babies at home,” referring to her children.
Charles told the Advocate that he cannot comment on the suit.
Collier also participated in the investigation but has since left the sheriff’s office.
Shortridge is named in the suit for allegedly failing to properly supervise his detectives.
Shortridge told the Advocate that he is confident the suit will not succeed because his detectives did everything the right way. He said the sheriff’s office is still gathering evidence in the case.
Miller was arrested on charges of first-degree robbery and murder Nov. 13, 2015.
Prosecutors alleged that Martin and another woman lured Brewer, 52, into the bedroom of his apartment and tied him up with the promises of sex and then invited Miller and Hall in to rob him.
Brewer had reportedly come in to some money shortly before the alleged murder.
Detectives reportedly discovered that Brewer possessed nearly $50,000 in his checking account at the time of his death, the suit claims.
During the course of the robbery, authorities claimed that Miller shot Brewer in the head and coerced Hall into shooting him as well, the Advocate previously reported.
Martin would reportedly claim that her confession was false in correspondence with Hall while both were incarcerated.
The suit alleges that Craycraft had Martin destroy the letters she and Hall exchanged after she was released from jail despite a court order to maintain them. He cites phone records it claims link Craycraft and Martin in contact during that period.
Miller is suing on several grounds including alleged malicious prosecution, fabrication of evidence and conspiracy to deprive constitutional rights. It seeks a jury trial and awarding of compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs against each defendant.
Jones, the KSP and Craycraft did not return messages seeking comment.
The suit also provides the identity of an alternative suspect whom it claims has admitted to witnesses that he committed the crime.
Miller is not free from prosecution in another case, however. He still faces multiple drug charges allegedly committed while he was out on bail on the murder charge.
Miller is charged with two counts of first-degree possession of a controlled substance stemming from an incident that occurred May 9, 2017.
A detective testified at a preliminary hearing that officers reportedly found a small pill container with a baggie containing suspected methamphetamine and three bindles of heroin in a vehicle Miller was a passenger in.
The driver had reportedly been the target of an ongoing drug investigation.
Miller remains free on bond.