Central PA's LGBT News Source

Retired police officer

Cleared of murder using ‘gay panic’ defense


James Miller successfully used the ‘gay panic’ defense after killing a neighbor who tried to kiss him.

After Miller retired from the Austin Police Department, he took up guitar, strumming the instrument at a nearby musicians’ bar, trying to put together a jazz band and getting together at the house of David Spencer, a 32-year-old neighbor and a saxophonist who shared his passion. In September, 2015, after a night of music and drinking at Spencer’s house, Miller testified, his younger neighbor made a fatal mistake: He moved in for a kiss. Then, he said, he pulled out a knife and stabbed Spencer two times.

Three years later, the former police officer claims the killing was self-defense, and he was in a “gay panic” after being hit on by another man.

The former police officer was sentenced to six months in jail. He will have to complete 100 hours of community service, pay $11,000 in restitution to Spencer’s family and use a portable alcohol monitoring service for at least a year. He will also be on probation for a decade.