Lawrence J. Miller

16 years

In August 1981, two teenagers, Elizabeth and William, were assaulted behind a church in Danbury, Connecticut on Clapboard Ridge Road. The perpetrator was dressed as a policeman, and wore a bandanna over his face. During the attack, the bandanna slid down and allowed Elizabeth to briefly see part of his face.

During the attack, the perpetrator had used a set of handcuffs on William that were the same brand used by federal correction agencies. It was concluded that due to this piece of evidence the perpetrator had to have access to these institutions. Miller worked at a federal correction facility at the time and was put into the suspect pool.

After failing to identify her attacker from photo sets that included Miller on three separate occasions, Elizabeth identified Miller as her assailant in April 1982 after being shown a new photo of him. Miller was convicted based on her testimony, despite its questionable validity.

Prior to Miller’s trial, a man named Daniel Johnston approached Miller and his wife and told them he knew Miller was innocent. This was reported to the police who then interviewed Johnston. He gave them a false alibi and told them that he would not deny committing the crime. Elizabeth had also never been shown a photo of Johnston, and may have been able to identify him. This crucial information was not disclosed to Miller’s defense lawyers prior to trial.

Miller maintained his innocence from the beginning, and even had an airtight alibi. He testified that he was at his sister’s home, a statement supported by his wife, sister, sister’s friend and mother. There was no physical evidence linking Miller to the attack. Miller was convicted and sentenced to 32 years in prison.

In 1986, Johnston was convicted of murdering a New York woman and dumping her body about a mile from Clapboard Ridge Road, where Elizabeth and William were attacked. In 1995, Johnston finally confessed to Emanuel that he, not Miller, was the attacker.

In 1993 Miller filed a habeas petition, which was subsequently granted. Johnston’s testimony, along with other physical evidence, eventually proved Miller’s innocence. Charges against him were dropped in 1997, after he spent sixteen years in prison for the assault. In 2015, the state of Connecticut was ordered to pay $4,050,000 in compensation to Miller.