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Texas man uses ‘gay panic’ defence to avoid murder conviction

The 69-year-old claims his neighbour had tried to kiss him

By Fabio Crispim

A Texas man was cleared of the murder of his neighbour after using the “gay panic” defence. 

James Miller, 69, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide for killing his neighbour Daniel Spencer in east Austin in 2015. 

After retiring from the Austin Police Department, Miller took up guitar playing and struck a close friendship with Spencer, a saxophonist who shared his musical passion and had just moved to the neighbourhood from Los Angeles.

Then, in September 2015, Spencer invited Miller to his home where he allegedly moved in for a kiss. Miller responded by saying: “Hold it, I’m not a gay person”. Spencer became aggressive after being turned down and attempted to attack Miller, a court heard. 

Speaking to the jury, Miller said: “He had [a] height advantage over me, arm length over me, youth over me. I felt he was going to hurt me.” 

Miller then pulled out a knife and stabbed Spencer twice, killing him before handing himself into the police. He was later charged with murder, NBC reports. 

Now, three years later, Miller claims the killing was “self-defence” and that he was in a “gay panic” after Spencer had made a move on him. However, prosecutor Matthew Foye argued that Miller’s use of fatal force as self-defence was “ludicrous” and that he didn’t have “as much as a scratch on him”. 

The jury found him not guilty of murder or manslaughter and Miller will not spend a day in prison.

Instead, he will spend six months in jail, complete 100 hours of community service, pay $11,000 in restitution to Spencer’s family and use a portable alcohol monitoring service for a year.