Miguel’s Post Both sides played stupid games, both sides won stupid prizes really bothered me.
At first, my suspicion was that this was the result of a long standing neighbor dispute. So I looked into it. It wasn’t a long standing dispute, which shocked me.
I did as much research into this case as I could and have decided to do a postmortem on it. Everything about it is a shit show. The wife (fiance actually) has some moral culpability in this too.
Lastly, while we all agree that video is making situations like this easier for cops to piece together what happened and is generally good, don’t get stupid when you pull out the camera. Miguel has covered this before. This will become important later.
The fight started over trash in the alley, specifically throwing away a twin mattress.
Box said they had moved to that Abilene home in April, but they had never talked to the Millers until the morning of Sept. 1. The Millers were next-door neighbors.
“We had thrown out a twin mattress in a dumpster in our alley a few days before the shooting,” Box said. “You have to have the mattress in the dumpster or they will not haul it away.”
On the morning of Sept. 1, Box and Howard were in the backyard when they saw the mattress was on their property. Howard tossed it back in the dumpster.
Box said that’s when John Miller came to the alley, pulled the mattress out of the dumpster and tossed it back on Howard’s property.
This argument was the first interaction between Aaron Howard, the deceased, and John and Michael Miller, the shooters.
Kara Box was Howard’s fiance and the woman filming the altercation.
During in the incident Howard had a baseball bat, which according to Box:
“He [Howard] didn’t even swing it, he threw it over both of their heads and it landed behind them in the alley,” Box said. “That’s when the old man fired past my face and shot Aaron in the chest twice with the pistol.”
So Howard was armed.
Here is the problem with all of this.
Howard told Miller to put it back in the dumpster. Miller cursed at Howard and told him he wasn’t going to do that, Box said.
“That’s when John (Miller) pulled a pistol out of his shorts,” she said. Box noted that Howard’s nieces and nephews had been with them in the backyard.
The old guy without the shirt in the video is John Miller. He pulled out the gun first.
“Aaron goes into pappa bear mode,” Box said. “A man has just pulled a gun on his wife, his brother, his nieces and nephews.”
This is where I start to lose it as a dad. I’m running the fuck away at this point, carrying my kids and dragging my wife. I’m calling the cops and pressing charges. Situations like this call for Jew-Jitsu, the ancient martial art of finding an attorney and suing a guy to death.
A tense conversation ensues between Howard, who is not armed, and John and Michael Miller, who arrives on the scene armed with a shotgun.
Michael Miller, the younger man with out a shirt, came out with a shotgun to escalate the situation. According to Inside Edition, Michael Miller actually went inside to get the shotgun. He retreated then came back.
Howard threatens to kill the Millers, and the Millers repeatedly curse at Howard, according to the video.
As tempers flare, Box steps in between her husband and John Miller. Howard’s brother has handed him a baseball bat by this time, but he never swung it, his wife said.
Howard’s brother upped the ante by giving Howard a weapon.
By now Box has her phone out and is recording all of this.
This is when Howard throws the bat which makes John Miller shoot him in the chest. Micheal Miller, John’s son, then fires his shotgun, hitting Howard in the head.
Here is where things get all sorts of fucked up.
Box and Howard were together for nearly two years and helped each other through their personal struggles in life, such as Howard’s lifelong battle with mental health issues.
“He had what’s called IED (intermittent explosive disorder), but he was getting help for it,” Box said.
Box is coming to her deceased fiance’s defense for those who may not have seen Howard the way that she did.
“It’s like judging someone for having cancer or diabetes, ‘Well, just stop having it,’ that’s not how it works,” said Box.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder is apparently a real thing.
Intermittent explosive disorder falls in the category of impulse control disorders. The condition is characterized by failure to resist aggressive impulses, resulting in serious assaults, property destruction, or frequent verbal aggression in the form of temper tantrums or tirades. Examples of this behavior include threatening to or actually hurting another person and purposefully breaking or damaging an object of value.
Box knew her fiance had this problem and escalated the situation. I agree she has no legal culpability but she has all sorts of moral culpability. It’s great that she pulled out the camera to show the police later, but why did she not do everything in her power to try and calm Aaron down, or get him out of there, or call the cops, or something.
If you love someone with diabetes pull out a king size Snickers and a 64 oz Mountain Dew, you slap that shit out of their hand and ask them why they’ve decided to commit suicide.
Box and Howard’s brother made it worse for Howard, not better.
This got out of control because the idiocy of not three, but five people.
- John Miller, who pulled out a gun over an argument, presumably trying to intimidate a much bigger guy.
- Michel Miller, who left the scene to come back with a second gun.
- Aaron Howard, who has an impulse control disorder.
- Kara Box, who decided to record the Millers rather than try and get her fiance, who she knows has a temper problem, out of there.
- Howard’s brother, who presumably also knows about Howard’s mental issues and also retrieves a weapon.
Everyone here was a garbage person, and while legal culpability falls on the Millers there is enough moral culpability for everyone.
It’s one thing to point to the main actors and say “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” but here we had family who are mourning the death of a loved one or will be serving time in an adjacent cell, who had every chance to deescalate but didn’t.
This whole thing was just an awful fucking mess.
The primary lesson here is: don’t let your ego get the best of you.
The second lesson is: if you see someone you care about doing something stupid and dangerous, stop them.
13 thoughts on “Abiline Shooting Postmortem”
This whole sorry mess can also be seen as a lesson on how easy it is to not see something escalating when you’re in the middle of it … especially how you might not be helping. Sort ofa lack of situational self-awareness.
I wonder if ASP John will be covering this. He tends to talk a lot about how egos give people the most problems.
My mom is fond to say “The mouth is the body’s punishment”
I simplified it to “Ego kills.”
There is so little good information out there. About half of your analysis is based on what box has said and which is what is available in news articles. Fwiw it is a shit show but there has got to be something missing, this just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The two articles I read never mentioned the bat.
The videos I’ve seen all conviently have that shitty crop zoom that makes it impossible to see precisely what Howard is doing right before he is shot. I cannot legitimately tell if it he is actually out of frame or the video crops him out.
One possibility is he steps forward with the bat and gets shot then throws the bat when he gets shot/shot at.
Leaving and coming back is definitely reengaging however an aggravating factor is your dad is in an armed stand off against an armed man. That looks like backup to me, my dad or brother or mother etc is in an armed standoff I’m arming up as backup I think most would.
The very low bond for first degree murder and the charge of first degree murder makes me think the authorities are not very serious about incarcerating the Millers. 1st seems like an over charge especially if there was never an contact before this point. 25k bond for first is s joke. If they were serious it’d be much higher. Just abouny anyone can bond out 25k on a credit card.
This should have never escalated to that point, one or both parties should have left and just called the polce.
The whole thing is a shit show and I don’t think there is a clear good guy/bad guys from what we know yet but it looks like both parties dun fucked up to some degree.
I can only go by what I can find.
First degree murder may be a stretch but the repeated words of John Miller amount to “do something that gives me reason to shoot you.” That is not self defense.
I agree with stand your ground, but this went way past that. This was not a sudden attack, this was two sides baiting each other.
If the son left and came back with a shotgun and had the time to make a rude gesture, he wasn’t in fear for his life, he was intimidating.
Both Millers should be on their way to prison.
Does a rude gesture preclude you from claiming self defense? Does answering a threat with an implied or explicit threat or invitation preclude you from claiming self defense? I’m not sure, I’d probably say it doesn’t if your claim to self defense is real.
Again, I don’t think they are in the right at least morally, and probably legally, but it can be viewed that all of that wordplay is part of the continuum of force. Was it executed correctly here, no, I do not think it was.
RE the purpose of leaving and coming back to intimidate, again does that preclude a self defense claim? You can articulate the purpose was that you were in fear that your father was in danger of death or grievous bodily harm if left on his own. It was after all one versus at least three with at least one deadly weapon; even with a gun we know there is no guarantee in any situation, let alone versus a group.
I honestly have no idea if that has even been a successful defense or aggravating/mitigating factor anywhere. IDK about the law in Texas specifically but many self defense laws specifically allow the use of deadly force to prevent death or grievous bodily harm to another.
I just really don’t think there is enough evidence to make a clear decision past everyone involved fucked up and should go to jail.
Stand your ground laws notwithstanding, if you successfully retreat from a confrontation, arm yourself, and return to it, you have become the aggressor. Young Miller may claim he was defending Old Miller, but since OM had a pistol and refused to disengage when he had a clear line of retreat, I wouldn’t want to call that a defense-of-others case, either. Especially when (if you believe the fiancee) OM had initiated the confrontation by moving the mattress from the dumpster, where it would have been properly disposed of, to the ground, where it wouldn’t have.
It looks like a case of petty meanness on the Millers’ part that got out of hand.
At least Howard won’t have to put up with such shitty neighbors anymore.
What if it was OM dumpster? Doesn’t he have a right to remove other people’s garbage from his dumpster? Especially when waste management companies charge you to empty it?
Not saying this is what happened, but there is a story that looks less incriminating for the Millers that fits the facts as we know them:
OM has a dumpster that he pays for, whjich is located along the alley on his property. From experience, the WM company charges about $110 to empty that dumpster. People keep driving by and dumping their trash in it, which is costing him $$$. He sees Howard dumping a mattress in it, and removes it from his dumpster.
Howard, who has mental issues and is known to have threatened mail carriers in the past to the point where the post office refuses to deliver his mail, puts it back in. OM sees him and confronts him. Howard begins getting mouthy and issues threats against Miller and his whole family. Howard’s brother and GF join him.
At this point, YM leaves and gets his shotgun in order to defend his dad. More threats are issued and both sides let their egos take over. Howard’s GF begins filming at this point.
Howard’s brother hands him a bat, and more jawing takes place. Howard then tells his brother to “give me the gun” and swings the bat at OM, who shoots him. YM also fires his shotgun.
All I am saying is this is why we have trials and don’t try these things on the Internet. I will admit that I was initially ready to convict Zimmerman, based on reports. Then I saw the evidence and watched the trial, and saw that Zimmerman was not guilty.
Ever since, I have advocated for waiting to see how the trial plays out. Remember, the video you are watching was provided by the accomplice of the decedent. You are seeing what she wants you to see.
You’re right about the dumpster. I mainly was referring to YM’s disengaging from the confrontation, arming himself, and returning to the confrontation, which destroys any self-defense or SYG claim. But the dumpster was the precipitating factor. If the dumpster belonged to the Millers, I would have approached them and said, “I’ve got this mattress I have to dispose of. Would you mind if I threw it in your dumpster for this week’s pickup?. I’ll give you [whatever it would cost me to have someone haul it away]”, and gone from there.
But my statement about the shitty neighbors still stands.
And you’re also right about waiting for the trial. My comment was based on what was on the video (which will probably be the centerpiece of the trial). I hope someone follows this story, so next year we can get the full story.
Nobody here covered himself (or herself) in glory, but either side could have decided this was a bullshit argument and walked away at any time, and nobody would be dead and nobody would be in jail.
This is why I hate the living.
I’m asking if legally there are ever valid reasons to disengage oneself and reengage. It of course all depends on who the aggressor is, but I would think if you are not an aggressor or joining the aggressor and are reengaging due to a fear of death or grievous bodily harm being brought upon an innocent person, that is a different circumstance. If that is possible, I can see that applying here. Likely this is an untested area of the law and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one to do it.
IIRC CT has a provision that says if you disengage a fight in which you were the initial aggressor then reengage for the purpose of self defense because you are pursued after disengagement you can claim self defense. I’d have to find that statute though, I’m just scrapping the memories on this one.
I also want to point out that Howard was a career violent criminal. GO to the link below, and search for Aaron Kristopher Howard with a DOB of 11/28/1980
You will see that he has a long list of crimes to his name going back 20 years, including:
7 charges of theft of property
Assault with bodily injury
2 charges of Criminal mischief
Class B harassment
He was also the subject of a DV restraining order.
Going to the same site and searching for John Dee Miller DOB 1/31/1951 shows a similar criminal career for the father.
Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
2 charges of unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon
Neither one of them is innocent. They both appear to be career criminals.
So the upshot is, this was a community service killing. One career criminal is permanently eliminated from society, and another will probably go to prison for life.
Only about 20% of all homicides have a “legit” (i.e., non-criminal) victim, and this wasn’t one of them. Color me surprised.
I may be mistaken, but if that was not known to the Millers beforehand then it would not be admissible as evidence to why they acted with certain knowledge or belief. If the reporting is true, they never interacted before, so this was very likely not known to the Millers.
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