Jury seated in McMiller murder trial

A jury of eight women and four men plus two female alternates was seated Tuesday afternoon in the capital murder trial of Kevin McMiller.

McMiller, now 21, is accused in the stabbing death of Shirley Owney, 39, who was killed inside her apartment at 21st Avenue and Poplar Street on March 23, 2012.

He also is accused of kidnapping a member of Owney’s family, who was 16 at the time, and forcing her to accompany him to an abandoned house at 20th Avenue and Elm Street where the girl was sexually assaulted several times. Police followed a blood trail from the apartment to the house where they said McMiller was sitting on the floor with the girl sitting between his legs with a knife at her throat.

After about an hour, police negotiators were able to persuade McMiller to release the girl and he was taken into custody without incident.

According to testimony at a probable-cause hearing for McMiller, he and the girl, who was 16 at the time, had dated but had broken up and McMiller reportedly walked from his house on Jonquil Street in the Shady Grove area to the apartment, then stood outside the window for about two hours making threatening phone calls and sending text messages. Police said he brought the knife with him from his home on Jonquil Street.

Testimony at the hearing indicated that at some point, Owney got on the phone and shortly after that, McMiller broke the window and jumped into the room, cutting the girl on both arms. Owney and the girl tried to flee the apartment but police say McMiller pulled the door closed, locked it and fatally stabbed Owney in the upper body.

Her body was discovered after an upstairs neighbor smelled smoke coming from downstairs, then heard a fire alarm. The neighbor called the fire department, and firefighters entered the apartment and extinguished a small fire that resulted from the kitchen stove catching fire while Owney was cooking.

In addition to capital murder, McMiller is charged with aggravated residential burglary, kidnapping, rape, second-degree domestic battery and first-degree terroristic threatening, all felonies.

The state has waived the death penalty and if McMiller is convicted of capital murder, he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau and Deputy Prosecutor Bryan Achorn are representing the state during the trial, which is being presided over by Fifth Division Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis.

Attorneys John Cone and Sandra Trotter Phillips of the Public Defender’s Office are representing McMiller.

Both sides will present opening statements beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday.