‘It was an accident. I love her to death’; Ex-trooper charged with manslaughter in 2014 death of wife, newborn baby

Joseph Miller, 36, was arraigned Friday on two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of JoAnna Miller and their newborn baby, prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia said.

A message seeking comment from Miller’s lawyer wasn’t immediately returned. He is free on $100,000 bail and was ordered to surrender his passport and firearms.

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This Friday, March 17, 2017, photo provided by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in Norristown, Pa., shows former Pennsylvania State Police trooper Joseph Miller, charged Friday with the 2014 shooting that killed his pregnant wife JoAnna Miller and their newborn baby. (Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office via AP)

However, the investigation remained open as evidence was examined.

He initially told police he was about 8 to 10 feet away from his wife but later changed his estimate to about 2 feet away.

Joseph Miller also told detectives he didn’t check to see whether the gun was unloaded before cleaning it.

However, a coroner ruled JoAnna Miller’s cause of death was a “perforating close range gunshot wound of the head.” A two-year investigation involving ballistics and forensic tests showed the gun was 3 to 6 inches from JoAnna Miller’s head when it went off, according to a statement by the Montgomery County district attorney’s office.

PHILADELPHIA — A former state trooper has been charged in the 2014 shooting death of his pregnant wife — three years after an initial investigation cleared him of wrongdoing in the case.

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“It was an accident. I love her to death.” “I did not,” he replied.

In an interview transcript released Friday, investigators asked Miller: “Did you intentionally shoot your wife?”

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Prosecutors say Miller had extensive firearms safety training as part of his job as a state trooper and disregarded the essential standards and procedures for handling weapons the day he shot his wife, according to the criminal complaint.

Miller told detectives he was disassembling his personal gun in the family room so he could clean it when it discharged and struck his 34-year-old wife, who was sitting on the floor sorting clothes for donation, according to a criminal complaint.

The couple has four other children.

JoAnna Miller was 24 weeks pregnant when she was shot in the head in the family room of their East Norriton home on March 7, 2014, as she organized children’s clothes. The baby, named Gillian, died shortly thereafter. She died at a hospital after delivering the girl via an emergency C-section.

Authorities at the time said all evidence indicated the Millers were “a close-knit, loving family excited about the pending arrival of a new baby.”
In June 2014, the district attorney’s office concluded the shooting was negligent but accidental.

In a call Joseph Miller placed to 911 after the shooting, he tells a dispatcher: “I, ah, was cleaning. I shot my wife.” He can then be heard consoling children, saying, “Guys, guys, guys, it’s OK.” I was about to clean my gun, and I didn’t realize there was a round …