On Wednesday, a former U.S soldier was granted parole after serving eight years of a life sentence for premeditated murder after shooting an Afghan civilian who attempted to take his firearm.
According to an online petition started two years ago, Sergeant Derrick Miller was in Afghanistan for his third deployment in four years when the incident took place.
“On September 24, Sgt. Miller’s attention was drawn to an Afghan national who had penetrated the defense perimeter set up by the US Army,” the petition with more than 10,000 signatures reads. “The Afghan man was positively identified by another soldier under Sgt. Miller’s command who recognized him from a detainment the previous day. Sgt. Miller was sent to question the Afghan national after observing the suspicious behavior of the man as he reconnoitered their defense perimeter. During the harsh questioning, the Afghan insurgent attempted to grab Sgt. Miller’s weapon, and was shot and killed in the struggle.”
The petition adds that 45 minutes later, Miller’s unit was attacked on three sides from insurgents.
“Because of Sgt. Miller’s actions, his unit immediately went to 100% security, and no American lives were lost that day,” the petition states.
During his trial, Miller’s attorneys argued that he acted in self-defense while in the Taliban-held area of Afghanistan.
In a statement, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said it was his “honor” to advocate for Miller who he believes “appeared to have the deck stacked against him during the Obama Administration while Sgt. Miller worked passionately to defend his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.”
“After first backing Sgt. Miller’s story, an Afghan interpreter was coaxed into changing his story to testify at trial against Sgt. Miller with promises of U.S. citizenship for himself and his family,” Gohmert said. “Since prior efforts to get U.S. visas had been denied, he was more than willing to have a U.S. soldier convicted if it meant safety and legalization for them in the U.S. It was evident that same deck was stacked against Sgt. Miller when witnesses he needed in Afghanistan were not allowed to come testify at his trial in the U.S.”
Gohmert testified at a hearing to modify the conviction to allow Miller to be eligible for parole.
“The faith in God of Derrick and his mother never wavered during the nine-year ordeal,” Gohmert said. “They are very special people. Derrick’s actions actually saved American military lives for which not only got no credit; he was sent to prison. But this good news has brought joy for Derrick and those of us who were trying to help him.”
Miller’s mother, Renee Miller, thanked Gohmert for “his valiant effort to fight for this American son.”
“One meeting with Congressman Gohmert is all it took for this good and caring Congressman from Texas to engage on Derrick's behalf,” Renee said. “Congressman Gohmert went that extra mile, he attended two of Derrick's hearings and he fought for his release! I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you live in Texas, you are lucky to have such a devoted and caring Congressman who fights for our brave Sons who fight for us.”
Miller will be released from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth on May 20, 2019.