BREAKING: Michael Miller found guilty of all charges - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Michael Miller found guilty of all charges, sentenced to life without parole

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
A Columbus man pleads for his life after being found guilty of murder.

Michael York Miller was found guilty of the April 10, 1999 murder of 24-year-old Shawnita Campbell.

Muscogee County Superior Court Judge William C. Rumer sentenced Miller to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus five years for additional charges of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and threatening a witness. 

Before Miller was sentenced Friday afternoon, he addressed the Campbell family. Miller claimed to be "a man of God" and begged for mercy while alleging he is being framed for a crime he did not commit.

Miller said although he was offered a plea deal from the state, he did not take the deal because he thought the truth would come out in trial. 

Miller claimed to have children the same age as the victim's children, but said he asked his family not to attend the sentencing because he didn't want them to see what was going to happen.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Craig said Miller never showed any signs of remorse.

"He wasn't willing to admit he even knew Shawnita Nicole Campbell, which told us a lot," Craig said after the sentencing.

The Campbell family declined to speak after the hearing but a spokesman says they were happy with the sentence and are ready to move forward. 

"The graciousness of that family to sit through the trial like they did and be patient and hopefully they can begin now with some closure," Craig added.

Part of Miller's defense team, Robert Wadkins Sr. said he would have been 73 years old when he was eligible for parole and suffers from several illnesses.

"I don't know why the judge wants him in prison until he dies but I suspect that he probably won't live to be 73," Wadkins Sr. Said.

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The family of 24-year-old Shawnita Campbell waited over a decade for justice. 

Guilty of all charges, it took a Muscogee County jury less than an hour to convict Michael Miller of the 1999 murder. Miller was sentenced to life without parole plus 10 years on Friday, May 30.

Campbell was shot in the head with a .25 caliber handgun more than 15 years ago on or around April 10, 1999, according to police. 

Campbell's body was dumped in a field near Warehouse Drive in Southeast Columbus. Her body was found on April 12, 1999.

Witnesses told police Miller shot Campbell while sitting inside a car during an argument, possibly over drugs.

Miller allegedly fled Columbus soon after the murder. He was arrested over 700 miles away in Ohio in 2011.

Friday afternoon, Miller was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and two counts threatening a witness.

Witnesses claimed they saw Miller arguing with the victim in the back seat of a car. Then, they heard a single shot. 

After the trial the defense blamed a "faulty system" for the  conviction. 

"Today's verdict shows how frighteningly easy it is to put a man behind bars for the rest of his life," defense Attorney Robert Wadkins Jr. Said.

Wadkins, Jr. claimed the evidence was insufficient for a conviction. 

"There was no credible evidence that my client committed any crime and in an hour a jury has decided his fate," Wadkins, Jr. Proclaimed.

The prosecution challenged saying, Miller decided Campbell's fate 15 years ago when he decided to end her life.

"A projectile had lodged into her brain as Michael York Miller had murdered her, and she was dying right beside him," Assistant district attorney Michael Craig said during closing arguments.

Miller showed very little emotion as the verdict was read,  unlike previously during the trial when he sobbed loudly during witness testimony. 

Prosecutors said the victory removed another brick from the wall of silence that has allowed criminals like Miller  walk free.

"She was a mother, a daughter a human being. She has been screaming out for justice," Craig closed.

Campbell's family sobbed and hugged prosecutors after the verdict was read, thanking them for the justice they say they've waited so long to get. 

See Related: Michael Miller cold case murder trial begins 15 years after body found

Miller Murder Trial Day 2: Prosecution calls key witness

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