Southeastern PA

Montco DA: East Norriton shooting death accidental

Three-month investigation concludes no charges will be filed

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office has completed a review of the
investigation of the March 7 shooting deaths of Joanne Miller and her unborn child.

The investigation revealed that state police trooper Joseph Miller was attempting to clean his firearm, which he believed was empty. A single shot, accidentally fired from the weapon, killed his pregnant wife, who was seated nearby in their East Norriton Township home.

Despite lifesaving attempts to save the couple's unborn baby, the child also died as a result of the gunshot.

"After an extensive investigation and careful review of the evidence and applicable law, the district attorney has concluded that the firearm discharge, though negligent, was unintentional and accidental," said District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman in a news release.

Ferman determined criminal charges are not warranted, based on the finding that the actor's negligence did not rise to the level of recklessness or gross negligence that would be required to support a homicide charge.

The investigation done by Montgomery County Detective Bureau and the East Norriton Township Police included collection and review of police
reports, witness statements, 911 recordings, crime scene evidence, electronic
communications, the autopsy and toxicology tests as well as ballistics analysis.

The district attorney reported investigators also conducted detailed interviews with individuals close to the Miller family to consider any possible motive for a killing. They found none.

"All evidence revealed a close-knit, loving family, excited about the impending arrival of a new baby in the summer 2014," said Ferman. "The totality of circumstances simply reveals that this incident is a tragic, but negligent, accident."

Having notified the East Norriton Township Police Chief and the Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner of  the determination that Joseph Miller's actions do not rise to the level of criminal liability, the district attorney's office will take no further action in the matter, said Ferman.

She added: "Should investigators develop any new evidence or any evidence to the contrary we reserve the right to reopen and review this matter."

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