The jury trial for the father of one of the Lake Christine Fire defendants — who allegedly became irate at a neighbor who told police the son and his girlfriend were at the father’s Missouri Heights home — began Monday in Eagle County District Court.
Craig Miller, 50, faces felony charges of attempted burglary, a felony and menacing and trespassing, both misdemeanors.
Miller’s son, Richard, and Allison Marcus, allegedly admitted to causing, by firing incendiary rounds at the gun range near Basalt on July 3, 2018, the largest fire in the Roaring Fork Valley in recent memory. It burned nearly 13,000 acres, endangered and caused the evacuation of thousands of people, and destroyed three homes. The trials for Richard Miller and Marcus are set for May and June, respectively.
The arrest affidavit for Craig Miller says Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies, anticipating Richard Miller and Marcus turning themselves in, responded to Craig Miller’s home on Paseo Drive near El Jebel.
“We were directed to this address due to a tip stating that the two people wanted for starting a wildfire in the area were at the residence,” wrote deputy Todd Sauer in the affidavit. “After speaking with several people at the … residence, deputy Salazar and I left without contacting the wanted subjects.”
Shortly after that, as the deputies were still in the area, Craig Miller stopped his car in front of Sauer’s patrol vehicle.
“Miller was visibly upset and stated that his son, Richard Miller, made arrangements to turn himself in to authorities, and he was told no one would bother him at his house,” Sauer wrote. “I told him that I was only aware of the arrangements after speaking with an attorney at the house and [that] we need to do our due diligence when we receive information about a wanted person. Miller was very upset … ”
Around 11:30 p.m., another law enforcement officer informed Sauer that, during a phone conversation with Craig Miller, Craig Miller had threatened “to go to his neighbor’s house regarding calling in tips about Richard being at the house,” the affidavit says. This officer instructed Miller that he could be arrested for doing so.
A few minutes later, Sauer responded to a neighboring home. The alleged victims said Craig Miller had walked into their fenced back yard and then to their front door, banging on it aggressively and ringing the doorbell.
One of the alleged victims then approached a deputy and Craig Miller with a tire iron raised in his hand. He dropped it when instructed by police “but continued to yell at Miller,” telling him to stay away from his house, the affidavit says.
The “visibly upset” neighbors also said he tried to open their locked front door.
Craig Miller, Richard Miller and Marcus were all taken into custody without further incident.
Ahead of trial, Craig Miller’s lawyer, Michael Fox of Aspen, filed a motion seeking to suppress any mention before jurors of the Lake Christine Fire.
Nowhere in the charges lodges against Craig Miller is the allegation that he caused the Lake Christine Fire, Fox wrote.
“Mr. Miller’s only connection to the Lake Christine Fire is that his son, Richard Miller, has been charged with felony arson in relation to the Lake Christine Fire. Richard Miller’s girlfriend, Allison Marcus, is also charged with felony arson.
“There has been significant media coverage of the Lake Christine Fire and subsequent prosecution, [and this coverage] has been accompanied online with numerous comments of outrage, bias and hatred of Mr. Miller and his family.”
The trial is set to last through Wednesday.