Man indicted on intoxication manslaughter after wreck that killed local deputy on lawnmower

Published 2:01 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2022

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A Beaumont man who allegedly killed a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy while he was cutting his grass was indicted Wednesday by a Jefferson County grand jury.

Michael David Miller, 38, was charged with intoxication manslaughter on July 9 immediately following the deputy’s death.

According to court documents, at 8:17 p.m. the Department of Public Safety was called to Burrell-Wingate Road in Jefferson County. On arrival, the responding trooper saw a 2017 gray Toyota SUV crashed in a nearby ditch, as well as a zero-turn lawn mower in the ditch near the SUV.

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Next to the lawnmower was the body of James Hartidge Lee, 71, who had been declared dead on scene by EMS.

Witness statements say the driver of the SUV was traveling west on Burrell-Wingate Road when he approached a curve at a high rate of speed, causing the vehicle to leave the roadway, according to the documents. The SUV then struck Deputy Lee, who had been mowing his lawn.

Miller was in the passenger seat of the SUV receiving medical treatment from first responders due to lacerations on his face and body. According to reports, EMS claimed the man was initially found on the ground next to the passenger door of the SUV, which had blood on the inside of the roof.

Miller reportedly spoke with slurred speech and told EMS he had drank “a 30 pack” of beer before driving and had also smoked marijuana earlier in the day.

Upon inspection of the vehicle, the trooper reportedly found a handgun under the front passenger floorboard.

“Since Miller possessed a handgun on or about his person while committing the offense of intoxication manslaughter, Miller was unlawfully carrying the handgun,” the trooper wrote in his report.

It was also later discovered that he had been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, in 2015.

Miller was charged with intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle, unlawful carry of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

As of Wednesday, Miller remained in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility on 252,5000 in bonds. There is also a hold on him from an unlisted agency that has no bond.