Richard Miles, Free at Last

Man exonerated after serving over 14 years of a 60-year sentence for murder

Around 3:00 am on the morning of May 16, 1994, Richard Miles’ life was forever changed. While standing on the corner of Lovers Lane and Bluffview Boulevard in Dallas, Miles’ was spotted by Dallas Police and identified as someone matching the description of a man seen running from a crime scene a short distance away. Miles was taken into custody and charged with murder and attempted murder. In August of the following year, he was convicted of these crimes and sentenced to serve 60 years in a Texas State correctional facility. During the trial and afterward, Miles pleaded innocent. He appealed his case, but with no success until years later and after he solicited the help of Centurion Ministries. A State District Court judge ordered Miles’ release on October 12, 2009, based on evidence of irregularities with the original trial. It wasn’t until two and a half years later, however, that Miles was officially free of the label “convicted felon.” On February 15, 2012, the Texas Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling and Miles was fully exonerated. [1] Police arrested Miles at the age of 19 for a crime he did not commit. By the time he was exonerated, he was 36 years old.

  According to The National Registry of Exonerations [2], the crimes involved with Miles’ conviction took place near a Texaco station on Northwest Highway in the Bachman Lake area. Reportedly, an African American man walked up to a car with two men inside, opening fire using a nine-millimeter pistol. One man was killed and the other man was critically wounded. A man standing in line in a nearby convenience store called 9-1-1. He reported hearing the shots and seeing a man running from the scene with a gun in his right hand. Still holding the gun, the man jumped into a Cadillac and sped away. A short time later, an off-duty police officer working at a car dealership in the area heard the crime reported on his police radio. He called in to report seeing a man fitting the suspect’s description walking down the street. Police responded and found Miles on foot about one and a half blocks from the dealership, on Lovers Lane and Bluffview Boulevard. They arrested Miles and immediately drove him to the crime scene where the witness who had originally reported the crime stated Miles was the man he had seen shoot both men.

  During the trial, the prosecution primarily relied on testimony from the key eye witness. They also used testimony from a forensic expert who stated she found evidence of gunshot residue on Miles’ right hand. The defense argued that Miles could not be guilty because he was left-handed while the shooter was right-handed. The residue, they said, was from matches, not from a gun. Miles smoked. A friend of Miles testified that he had dropped Miles off to walk home shortly before the arrest after the two young men had been watching television together until late at night. Adding credibility to the defense’s case, five additional witnesses testified that they had also seen the suspect on the night of the crime and that Miles was both lighter-skinned and shorter than the man they remembered. Despite this evidence in Miles’ favor, the jury found Miles guilty. Miles received two consecutive sentences, 40 years for murder and 20 years for attempted murder, for a total of 60 years.

  Miles quickly filed an appeal. On July 9, 1997, his appeal was denied. Subsequent efforts continued to be unsuccessful until, in 2007, Centurion Ministries got involved. Centurion, an organization out of Princeton, New Jersey, specializes in the investigation of wrongful convictions. Using the Freedom of Information Act, they filed a request to see the documentation from the case. Most notably, they discovered that two critical pieces of evidence had been kept from the defense. Both involved calls to the police that claimed knowledge of a different shooter. First, a woman had called approximately one year after the shooting and three months before the trial to report her ex-boyfriend had committed the crime. She stated he told her about shooting two men near the same Texaco station with a nine-millimeter pistol. Second, a man had called to also implicate a different man. As an additional step, Centurion had the evidence of residue on Miles’ hand re-examined by a new forensic expert. The conclusion was that the original findings were over-stated and that the evidence was actually inconclusive. The eye witness who implicated Miles later recanted his testimony. Taken together, this new evidence was enough for a State District Court judge to determine Miles had been falsely sentenced. The judge ordered that Miles be released on October 12, 2009. In Texas, however, only the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals can formally reverse a felony conviction. On February 15, 2012, this reversal was complete.

  Miles’ exoneration is one of 2,240 since 1989, and one of 343 in Texas according to the most recent data published by the National Registry of Exonerations. [3] More people have been exonerated in Texas than any other state, followed by New York with 267 exonerations. Cumulatively, this amounts to 19,794 years lost nationally and 1,908 years lost in Texas. Miles served more time than the national average for exonerees: 8.8 years. His story is characteristic in other ways, however. More exonerations involve murder convictions than any other conviction: 39 percent. The next most common type of conviction is sexual assault at 14 percent, followed by child sex abuse at 11 percent, drugs at 11 percent, robbery at 5 percent, and “other” at 19 percent. Furthermore, 46 percent of exonerations involve African Americans, followed by Caucasians at 39 percent, Hispanics at 12 percent, and “other” at 2 percent. [3] Miles is one of a growing number of Texas exonerations that were not based on DNA evidence, a logical trend due to the fact that little unreviewed DNA evidence remains. [4] Since becoming a free man once again, Miles used 15 percent of his restitution funds to start a nonprofit called Miles of Freedom (MOF). Miles of Freedom is an organization tasked with helping former prisoners lead crime-free and productive lives. Participants complete a three-month program covering topics such as resume-writing, interviewing, personal finance, and relationship skills. Some participants work with a MOF-managed lawn service crew as temporary employment while working to complete the program. Other support includes help with finding appropriate housing as well as employment. [5]

  When not busy managing MOF, Miles often speaks on wrongful incarceration at events across the country. He married his wife, Latoya, on September 15, 2013, and the couple now have a daughter named Raelyn Grace. According to the Miles of Freedom website, there is nothing that makes Miles prouder than having a loving family. [6]

Footnotes

[1] Miles v. State, Nos. AP-76,488 and AP-76,489 (Tex. Crim. App. February 15, 2012): 2-52. http://centurion.org/wp-content/themes/centurion/images/cases/richard-miles/court-document-richard-ray-miles.pdf.

[2] Possley, Maurice. “Richard Miles.” The National Registry of Exonerations” (2016). https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=3881.

[3] The National Registry of Exonerations. “Exonerations by State.” https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/Exonerations-in-the-United-States-Map.aspx.

[4] Emily, Jennifer. “Dallas County Office That's Exonerated 20 Turns Focus To Non-DNA Cases.” McClatchy-Tribune Business News, May 23, 2010. News and Newspaper (313915967).

[5] Light, Nanette. “A Second Chance: Richard Miles Creates Nonprofit After Exoneration to Help Ex-offenders Land Jobs.” Dallas News, 2015. http://res.dallasnews.com/interactives/miles-of-freedom.

[6] Miles of Freedom. http://milesoffreedom.org.

Bibliography

Barber, E. “Dallas Targets Wrongful Convictions, and Revolution Starts to Spread.” The Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2014. https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/0525/Dallas-targets-wrongful-convictions-and-revolution-starts-to-spread.

The National Registry of Exonerations. “Race and wrongful convictions in the United States,” March 7, 2017. www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/Race_and_Wrongful_Convictions.pdf.

Images

Lovers Lane and Bluffview Blvd.

Lovers Lane and Bluffview Blvd.

Lovers Lane and Bluffview Blvd. Location of the arrest of Richard Miles View File Details Page

Richard Miles with Wife & Daughter

Richard Miles with Wife & Daughter

Image of Richard Miles with wife and daughter | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles Visitation with Mother and Nieces

Richard Miles Visitation with Mother and Nieces

Richard Miles with his mother and nieces during a visitation in 2009 at the H. H. Coffield Unit, a Texas Department of Correction prison. Image provided by Richard Miles. | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles

Richard Miles

Richard Miles as a free man. | Source: Image provided by Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles MOF Job Readiness

Richard Miles MOF Job Readiness

A Miles of Freedom Job Readiness Workshop group. Image provided by Richard Miles. | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles GED Graduation

Richard Miles GED Graduation

1998 GED graduation at the H. H. Coffield Unit, a Texas Department of Correction prison. Image provided by Richard Miles. | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles Exoneration Ruling Feb 15 2012

Richard Miles Exoneration Ruling Feb 15 2012

Exoneration ruling delivered by the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas on February 15, 2012 | Source: Centurion Ministries | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles Associate Degree Graduation

Richard Miles Associate Degree Graduation

2002 Associates degree graduation at the H. H. Coffield Unit, a Texas Department of Correction prison. Image provided by Richard Miles. | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles as a Child

Richard Miles as a Child

Richard Miles as a child. Image provided by Richard Miles. | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles and Family

Richard Miles and Family

Richard Miles with family members. | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Richard Miles Visitation with Brothers

Richard Miles Visitation with Brothers

Richard Miles with his two younger brothers during a visitation at the H. H. Coffield Unit, a Texas Department of Correction prison. Image provided by Richard Miles. | Source: Richard Miles | Creator: Suzanne Tuckey View File Details Page

Street Address:

Lovers Lane and Bluffview Blvd.

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Cite this Page:

Suzanne Tuckey PhD, “Richard Miles, Free at Last,” Human Rights Dallas Maps, accessed November 18, 2018, http://humanrightsdallasmaps.com/items/show/8.

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