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Man Guilty of Killing Brother in Case Urged by 3rd Sibling

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 49-year-old Hollywood man was convicted Friday of murdering his brother in a case that was filed after another brother--a deputy attorney general--urged the district attorney’s office to prosecute the case. Their sister was a key witness against the convicted man.

A Van Nuys Superior Court jury deliberated a day and a half before finding Charles Samuel Miller guilty of first-degree murder in the Aug. 21, 1988, shooting of his brother, Walter Andre Miller, as a fourth brother stood nearby.

Walter Miller, 52, was shot to death at 1:20 a.m. outside his North Hollywood apartment as he returned from a party with his half-brother, Herman Curtis, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Dver, who prosecuted the case.

Curtis testified during the trial that he did not see who shot his brother. But Charles Miller’s sister, Christine Miller, testified that he told her a few hours before the killing that he was “going to get” their brother, Walter.

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Dver said there was no immediate provocation for the shooting. Rather, he said, Charles Miller had a “passionate, irrational, long-term hatred of his brother.” Charles Miller accused his brother of taking sides with his wife and trying to keep him from seeing their child after their 1985 divorce, Dver said.

Charles Miller, a hardwood floor installer, was arrested as a suspect within a few hours of the shooting but was released. The Van Nuys branch of the district attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him, court files show.

Seven months later, in July, 1989, the case was filed by the downtown Special Trials section after Jerry Curtis, a deputy with the attorney general’s office in Oakland, made several calls to the district attorney’s office urging them to re-examine the case.

“This family has been wiped out by this occasion,” said Jerry Curtis, adding that he made a personal appeal, not an official one, that prosecutors take another look at the evidence.

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Charles Miller was arrested a few days after the case was filed, officials said.

Miller’s attorney, Bruce C. Hill, told the jury that the case would never have been filed had it not been for lobbying by Jerry Curtis. Hill told jurors other people had motives to kill Walter Miller.

Hill said Walter Miller had recently argued with a neighbor who Hill alleged was a drug dealer. Because the jury also convicted Charles Miller of the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait to shoot his brother, he faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.


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