The former Marine who was found guilty of smuggling a chrome-plated AK-47 from Saddam Hussein’s palace into the U.S. in 2012 had his conviction overturned last month.
Former Staff Sgt. Joel Cleve Miller, 42, allegedly brought the AK-47 into the U.S. in 2005 at the close of his 14-month tour in Iraq. Miller maintained his innocence and claimed he was framed by another Marine, Christopher Bruce, who was having an affair with his former wife, Melissa Miller. After serving nine months of his two-year sentence, Miller was released, Daily Mail reports.
During Miller’s four-day trial in 2005, he stated Bruce and his former wife were involved in an affair, something the military considered a crime. Miller threatened to expose the illicit relationship, and in turn, Bruce devised an elaborate scheme involving the AK-47 to blackmail Miller into keeping quiet.
Bruce and Melissa Miller were called to testify in court, but both invoked their Fifth Amendment right and declined to appear. The appeals court found this oversight to be an unfair disadvantage to Miller.
“The district court abused its discretion by precluding Miller from calling two witnesses to testify about their alleged extramarital affair,” the appeals court’s opinion read. “Their testimony about the affair would have corroborated Miller’s testimony and bolstered his defense that he was framed in retaliation for threatening to report the alleged affair to military authorities.”
In light of this, Miller has been released.
The Marine Corps accused Miller of making fraudulent travel claims to a medical facility and in 2011, he was discharged for “bad conduct.” The former Marine had served for over 20 years.
[ Daily Mail ]