Real Name: Morgan Anthony "Tony" Miller
Date: December 14, 1983
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Details: Twenty-seven-year-old Tony Miller is a Toledo musician who was charged and convicted of an armed robbery that occurred in an Arby's Restaurant that he had departed with two friends just minutes earlier on December 14, 1983. The assailant in the case shot and injured off-duty police officer James Snead during the execution of the crime, and although the man wore a stocking mask, Tony was accused of being the assailant. Two witnesses identified him as the assailant. Tony, however, claims that he is innocent.
On the night of the incident, Tony went out with his best friend, Al Hartfield, who was out on leave from the Navy, and another friend, John Neal. At around 7:30PM, the three men stopped at the restaurant. As they entered the restaurant, Tony briefly spoke to Connie, an employee of the restaurant who was a friend of his.
A few minutes later, he joined his friends inside. John got into an argument with one of the employees about his meal. The manager came out, but Tony calmed John down and the three left. At around the same time that the friends left the restaurant, James Snead received a call that the restaurant was being held up. As he drove to the restaurant, he was told that the robber was in custody.
However, when he arrived there, he found a man crouched down with his gun drawn. It turned out that this man was Connie's boyfriend, an off-duty University of Toledo police officer. He had stopped by to pick her up at the exact same time of the robbery. Suddenly, the robber burst through the back door and shot Snead several times. Connie's boyfriend returned fire but missed. The robber fled on foot. Snead did not get a good look at the shooter; he was taken to the hospital and survived.
The restaurant manager and the counter clerk told police that the robber looked like one of the three men that had come in minutes earlier. Connie told police that Tony was one of the men. When shown a photo lineup, the manager picked out Tony as the robber. Around 4AM, Tony, his father, his brother, and John Neal went to the police station to speak with investigators. Tony was arrested and charged with attempted murder and aggravated robbery.
One month later, police arrested thirty-five-year-old career criminal Joseph Clark for two murders that occurred during separate robberies. When interrogated by police, Clark confessed to several other crimes, including the robbery at the Arby's restaurant and the shooting of Officer Snead. For unknown reasons, the police tape recorder was turned off.
Clark's confession matched most of the details of the crime, except for one: he claimed that the officer fired first, while eyewitnesses claimed that the robber shot first. Because of this, police did not believe him. Later, he recanted his confession. However, he did claim that he robbed the restaurant two other times.
During the trial, Tony and his attorneys wanted to get Clark on the stand to testify. They hoped that the jury would realize that the two men were very similar physically: both were short, about 5'4", and both were about 140 pounds. However, the judge refused to put Clark on the stand because he claimed that he would plead the 5th amendment. The jury did get to hear from the detective who heard the confession. However, the judge told the jury to disregard the confession.
The restaurant manager testified at trial, saying that when he met with Tony and his friends, he paid close attention to Tony, as he matched the description of the man who had previously robbed the store. He claimed that he watched as Tony and his friends returned to their car. Just seconds later, Tony put a stocking over his head, re-entered the store, and demanded the money. He also identified Tony as the man who committed the other two robberies, even though Clark had confessed to those crimes.
Tony's lawyer believed that this was a case of cross-racial mis-identification and that Tony was identified because he was similar to Clark. The counter clerk also saw the robber's face when he briefly lifted up his mask. She identified the robber as Tony. Another witness that testified was Connie's boyfriend, who had seen the robber flee the scene. However, he claimed that he only saw two men enter and leave the restaurant and that a third man waited in the car. He also did not witness an argument.
His account is further troubled by the fact that he did not mention seeing the encounter between his girlfriend Connie and Tony outside of the restaurant. Tony's lawyer believes that he made a mistake with his testimony, similar to the other eyewitnesses when identifying Tony.
Tony suspects that Clark was actually waiting behind the restaurant when he saw Tony and his friends leave. He believes that Clark entered the restaurant as if he was coming from Tony's car. He also states how unlikely it would be for a criminal to go to a restaurant, speak with someone there, leave, and return just seconds afterwards and commit a robbery.
His friends confirmed his alibi, but one, Al Hartfield, was out at sea at the time of the trial and was unable to testify. He also did not receive the subpoena or plane tickets that Tony's family sent him. Tony's friend John Neal did testify; however, it is believed that the jury disregarded his testimony because he had previously been convicted of armed robbery.
Tony was convicted of armed robbery and assault and was given a 20-to-40 year sentence. While in prison, he was approached by two inmates who claimed that they had heard Clark confess to the robbery and the shooting. They gave hand-written affidavits witnessed by a notary. When Tony's attorney tried to get him a new trial, the court felt that the testimony of two inmates was not good enough.
Tony is still serving for a crime that he claims he did not commit. Along with his lawyer, another person that has never given up on him is his grandmother, Reaber, who has picketed the Toledo courthouse twice a week for over eight years.
Suspects: A month after the arrest, a known felon named Joseph Clark, who is on death row, was arrested for multiple murder warrants and later confessed to the Arby's shooting; however, he later recanted. Clark's similarity to Tony suggests that he was the real shooter, but a judge refused to allow Clark to testify in Tony's defense.
Extra Notes: This segment first ran on Final Appeal: From the Files of Unsolved Mysteries on October 9, 1992. The update to this case aired on the February 24, 1993 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Solved. On the night of the broadcast, a prosecution witness called the telecenter and corroborated Tony's story. He claims that he saw the robber fleeing that night, but was not asked to see a photo line-up. After seeing photographs of Tony and Clark, and learning that Clark had a pockmarked complexion like the man he had seen, he believed that Clark was the robber, not Tony.
Based on this witness, along with other evidence, Tony filed an appeal with the Sixth District Court of Appeals who overturned his conviction on December 9, 1992. It was further ruled that Tony's judge "had no power to prohibit a witness from taking the stand based solely on the knowledge that the witness will refuse to testify." This was important because it would have allowed Clark to be put on the stand so that the jury would have seen the similarities between the two men.
Tony Miller was finally released after serving almost nine years. He has since been reunited with his family. He now works as a fast-food cook and is thankful that his lawyers and family never gave up on him.
- Tony Miller - National Registry of Exonerations
- Tony Miller - Victims of the State
- (Article about Tony's Grandmother) Grandma picketed to free grandson