LUMBERTON — A former U.S. military officer was found guilty on Wednesday of second-degree murder in a high-speed grisly crash that killed two people and severely injured a third person.
Julie Shaw Miller, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years and five months and a maximum of 13 years and three months in prison by Superior Court Judge Claire Hill. Miller, who was guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury and reckless driving, was stoic as the sentence was announced. Her aunt, who testified during the sentencing phase, became emotional.
“This is one of the toughest cases I’ve presided over as a Superior Court judge,” Hill said. “No one wins in this case. The lives of both families are affected.”
Miller’s attorney, Mike Klinkosum, had asked the court for a mitigated sentence, citing what he said was Miller’s mental condition when the accident happened, her good character, her lack of a criminal history and her honorable discharge as an Air Force major who worked in intelligence.
The crash, which occurred near Pembroke on Friday, June 12, 2009, killed Virginia Carol Locklear, 37, of Lumberton, and Marie D. Locklear, 49, of Pembroke. Frederick M. Locklear, 37, of Maxton, suffered extensive injuries, according to Assistant District Attorney Joe Osman, who prosecuted the case.
Testimony showed that Miller was driving a four-door white Saturn west on N.C. 711 in excess of 100 mph when it struck railroad tracks, went airborne and crashed into a group of people on motorcycles near Third Street. The crash happened at 11:04 p.m.
More than 20 people, including friends and family of the victims and Miller, attended the 10-day trial.
Angela Hunt, Virginia Locklear’s sister, said she has been struggling to cope with her family’s loss.
“If I’m alone, I cry,” Hunt said. “There’s a bond between sisters and now I’m just alone … I just miss her.”
Hunt worked at the Village Inn restaurant in Lumberton with her sister.
“I saw her every day, ” she said. “She was my best friend. She was a good sister and she was everything to me.”
Hunt said her sister was well-loved by the community.
“I loved working beside her,” she said. “My sister had more … customers than anybody else.”
Taking the stand on Wednesday was Joyce Hart, Miller’s aunt, who said Miller was going through a difficult divorce with her husband when the accident happened.
“She had no idea what she was doing,” Hart said.
Hart said she has seen Miller, who lived her family since she made bail, in what she called a “manic” state.
“She’s not well but she’s so compliant,” she said.
Miller, who suffered minor cuts and scrapes in the accident, originally told police on the night of the wreck that she had no memory of the crash, and only remembered seeing a sign that said “Clarkton.”
Hart said Miller never intended to hurt anyone.
“Julie was one of the most delightful person I’ve ever met,” Hart said.
Miller had been free on bail since July 22, 2010, when her bond was lowered to $300,000.