December 6, 2018
David Earl Miller was executed by the state of Tennessee on Thursday, December 6, 2018. He was pronounced dead at 7:25 pm CST, inside the execution chamber at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 61 years of age. David was executed for the murder of 23-year-old Lee Standifer on May 20, 1981, in Knoxville, Tennessee. David has spent the last 36 years of his life on death row in Tennessee.
Since David was sentenced to death before 1999, he was eligible to choose if he wanted to be executed by lethal injection or electric chair. David chose the electric chair.
David's mother reportedly drank continuously while she was pregnant. David had a sad childhood, as his mother met his father at a bar and had a one-nigh stand. Later, David gained a step-father who was physically abusive towards him. David was also sexually abused from a young age. David's first attempted to commit suicide at the age of six. Shortly thereafter, he began using various drugs. David spent time in a detention home, where staff member would sexually and physically abuse the boys. David dropped out of school in the eighth or ninth grade. David joined the Marines but claims he deserted after bootcamp when he learned he would not be sent to Vietnam. Prior to residing in Knoxville, Tennessee, David hitchhiked, stopping to work for money.
By May of 1981, David Miller was living with Benjamin Calvin Thomas, an ordained minister and school principal. During his time living in Knoxville, Miller was known to have spent time with Lee Standifer, who had a mild mental disorder. On May 20, 1981, Miller and Lee conversed by telephone. Miller was then seen walking to the local YWCA, where Lee resided. Throughout that day, Miller and Lee were seen at various places in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. Miller was observed drinking and doing drugs.
When Benjamin arrived home that night, he noticed that basement garage was wet and that Miller was sitting on the stairs to the basement in only his pants. Benjamin also discovered two streams of blood leading from the living room to the dining room and kitchen area. When Benjamin asked for an explanation, Miller claimed that he had been in a fight and had received a bloody nose. Benjamin said that he thought the carpet was ruined and kicked Miller out the following morning. Benjamin gave Miller some money and a short ride, with the understanding that Miller intended to hitchhike to Texas.
The following evening, Benjamin noticed a blue shirt hanging from a tree in his back yard. When Benjamin investigated, he found a nude female body lying face up in the yard, covered in blood. Benjamin immediately called the police. The woman, Lee, had been stabbed numerous times in the back, chest, and head, with unspecified instruments, possibly a fire poker and a Bowie knife.
Miller was arrested on May 29, 1981, in Columbus, Ohio. During his trial, Miller’s lawyers attempted to argue that there was insufficient evidence to prove his guilt, that Miller was so intoxicated the night of the crime that he could not have planned the murder, and that Miller was insane. No psychiatrist who examined Miller prior to the trial found him insane. He was convicted and sentenced to death on March 17, 1982.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Lee. Please pray for strength for the family of David.