Off-duty deputy hit and killed while mowing his yard; driver indicted on weapons charge

Published 8:31 am Tuesday, October 18, 2022

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BEAUMONT, Texas – A Kountze man has been indicted for a federal firearms violation in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.

Michael David Miller, 38, was named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Oct. 5, 2022, charging him with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.  Miller appeared in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christine L. Stetson on Oct. 17, 2022, 2022, and was ordered to be detained pending a detention hearing.

According to information presented in court, on July 10, 2022, Miller was driving a vehicle on a rural road in the Fannett community when he allegedly failed to negotiate a turn while speeding causing the vehicle to strike a drainage ditch and land on a riding lawnmower being operated by an off-duty Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy.  The impact killed Deputy James Lee on impact.  According to law enforcement officers, Miller exhibited signs of intoxication and was arrested for the state offense of intoxication manslaughter.  A firearm was found in the vehicle following the incident.  Further investigation revealed Miller had previously been convicted of a crime of domestic violence and is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition.

If convicted, Miller faces up to 15 years in federal prison.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Tommy Coleman.