Man sentenced to death in Mesa family's murder - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Man sentenced to death in Mesa family's murder

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:53 pm | Updated: 5:15 pm, Thu Sep 22, 2011.

A jury sentenced an Arizona man to death Thursday for murdering a family of five in Mesa in 2006 following arguments from a prosecutor who described him as among the most cold-blooded of killers.

Jurors deliberated for about six hours before sentencing William Craig Miller, 34, of Scottsdale, to death on five counts of first-degree murder. He will join 127 other inmates on Arizona's death row.

Miller fatally shot 30-year-old Steven Duffy and Duffy's girlfriend, 32-year-old Tammy Lovell, in the middle of the night in their middle-class east Mesa home in February 2006, shocking their community and the state.

Duffy and Lovell were former employees of Miller's. They were working as police informants against him in a 2005 arson case in which authorities say Miller enlisted Duffy to help him burn down his own home to collect insurance money.

Miller also killed Duffy's brother, 18-year-old Shane Duffy, and Lovell's children — 15-year-old Cassandra and 10-year-old Jacob.

"While today's jury verdict cannot bring back the lives taken by the hand of William Craig Miller, it does declare that those who take innocent life will pay the ultimate price," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement. "The challenge for our justice system now is to carry out this punishment without unnecessary or undue delay."

Miller's attorney, Eric Kessler, acknowledged Wednesday that Miller killed the family in an "evil act," but told jurors he should be spared the death penalty because he has been diagnosed as bipolar and had begun taking medication that made him even more manic around the time of the killings.

Kessler showed jurors a picture of the cell Miller would be confined to if given a life sentence and a picture of him as a tow-headed 5-year-old boy with a big grin. He told the jury, "Inside that monster you saw in the courtroom is a human being."

But prosecutor Kristen Hoffmeyer showed jurors some very different pictures — gruesome shots of all five victims with gunshots to the head. The images were flashed in court for all to see, causing the victims' family members to cry and cover their faces.

"You should be outraged by what this man has done," she told jurors. "The only penalty that fits these crimes is for this man to spend every single day of the rest of his life — however many he has left — sitting on death row."

She dismissed Miller's bipolar disorder and family troubles, telling jurors: "You may not have control over the cards you're dealt, but you have control over how you play the hand."

Miller was largely absent from his trial and only attended his own lawyer's closing arguments in the penalty phase. He also declined to address the jurors himself, even though the judge in the case told him it might get him a more lenient sentence.

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