A former Pennsylvania State Police Trooper was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter last week for the deaths of his wife and unborn child in 2014, which he claimed was accidental, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office.
On March 7, 2014, Joseph Miller called 911 and told investigators that he accidentally shot his wife in the head while he was preparing to clean his gun, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.
Miller’s wife Joanna was taken to the hospital in critical condition where she went into cardiac arrest. She was given an emergency cesarean section, but the 24-week-old baby and the mother died after surgery.
The Montgomery County Chief Coroner ruled their manners of death as homicide.
In 2014, the couple were at their home in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where Joanna Miller, 34, was sitting on the family room floor vacuum-sealing baby clothes. Her husband Joseph brought his Glock 39, .45-caliber semi-automatic weapon, into the room to clean it when it accidentally discharged, he told investigators.
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Forensic and ballistic tests show that the victim was “shot at close range,” according to the county’s press release.
According to the Allentown Morning Call, Miller allegedly told investigators he was 8 to 10 feet away from his wife at the time but subsequently changed his estimate to about 2 feet away.
According to the paper, Miller called 911 and told a dispatcher: “I, ah, was cleaning. I was about to clean my gun, and I didn’t realize there was a round I shot my wife.”
On the call, he can be heard saying to his children, “Guys, guys, guys, it’s OK,” the paper reports.
The paper reports that in June 2014, the district attorney’s office concluded the shooting was negligent but accidental, but that the case has remained open as evidence was examined.
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Miller, who resigned from his position at the state police department, was arraigned and his bail was at $100,000 with the condition that he surrender his passport and firearms. He has not entered a plea.
He is expected to enter a plea at his formal arraignment on May 10.
Information on whether he has retained an attorney was not immediately available.