Last Updated: 5:57 p.m.
Note: this is an account of the Paul Miller trial’s verdict portion on Friday afternoon. For the account of the two sides’ closing arguments Friday morning, go here.
Paul Miller is guilty of second-degree murder. He will spend the rest of his life in prison, pending potential appeals. He was found guilty in the murder of Dana Mulhall, his neighbor, whom he shot five times on March 12, 2012, during a argument over Miller’s barking dogs as the two men argued from their respective properties on South Flagler Avenue in Flagler Beach.
Miller’s $300,000 bond was revoked and he was taken into custody, back at the Flagler County jail, immediately after the jury was done rendering its verdict. He was asked to remove his belt and his jacket and submit to a pat-down. While the bailiff conducted the search, another bailiff stood in front or behind Miller, as is the custom once an offender has been found guilty of a felony.
Sentencing will be at 1:30 p.m. on June 18. Miller will be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison, essentially meaning that he will not see another day’s freedom.
Dana Mulhall would have turned 54 last week. Originally from Maine, he is buried in Jackman, a small hamlet in the far-north woods of the state, a few miles from the Canadian border. His family still lives in Moose River half a mile away.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mulhall’s younger sister, Karen Mulhall Theriault, 51, her voice breaking. “It won’t bring my brother back. But we have a little bit of satisfaction knowing that the person who did this to him is behind bars.
“We’re happy that this has taken place–no, not happy, but everything was done legally, and everything is turning out OK,” Mulhall’s mother, Angela Mulhall, 76, said. “It’s been a long stretch, but it had to come to an end one way or another, and we’re happy that it has showed up this way.”
Both Mulhalls attended the whole week-long trial. Mulhall’s younger brother Michael, who will be 49 next week, was not able to attend. The family spoke about 20 minutes after the verdict, sitting together in a small conference room at the State Attorney’s office in the courthouse building. Assistant State Attorney Jaquelyn Roys, who had led the prosecution and had delivered a striking performance in her closing arguments that morning, was also at the table.
“Somebody asked me to describe her,” Karen said of Roys, “and all I could say is ‘spitfire.’ She’s just unreal.”
“I think the jury got it right,” Roys said. “It’s not a happy day. I feel like it’s a just day, and a step closer for this family to start healing.”
Cindy Welborn, Mulhall’s girlfriend at the time of his death, was more sanguine about the verdict. “A life has been rejoyced after what, 15 months?” she said in a phone interview from her home in North Carolina. “The sentencing doesn’t much matter to me because I know he’s going to spend his life in prison,” she said of Miller. “Today I really don’t know how I feel. I’m happy about the outcome. Does that change my feeling toward Paul Miller? No, it doesn’t. I still feel the same about him today the way I felt the day it happened. Paul Miller may have taken Dana away from us, but he he cannot take away the memories we have of him.”
Of Miller, Welborn said: “I feel hatred for the first time in my life. I have never really honestly hated anybody in my life and you’re not supposed to feel that way as a Christian. But I do. It can’t be helped. I mean, one of the 10 commandments is Thou shalt not kill. He had no reason to kill Dana other than hatred and ill will. Dana was a good man, in all aspects of a human being, he was a good man. He was funny, he was extremely funny. The trial had talked about Paul Miller saying something about Northerners. Well, their hospitality is absolutely phenomenal. I shared my time in Flagler Beach with him and I shared his funeral up in Maine, and his family treated me like I was one of their family members.”
Miller’s transparent disdain for Northerners became apparent late in his 90-minute testimony on Wednesday, when he referred to one of his police interrogators as someone from far up north and “double rude, triple rude,” while comparing that interrogator’s attitude to Roys, the assistant state attorney who’d cross-examined him. It was the latest, during those 90 minutes, of Miller’s missteps, when what was perhaps supposed to come across as evidence of his Southern sensibilities and manners–he is originally from Tennessee–came across instead as seething condescension and, toward Roys, as misogyny: he called her “crazy” and characterized some of her questions as “stupid,” sometimes in seething intonation.
The defense had gambled by placing him on the stand in his defense. Miller, through his painfully ugly and evasive testimony when questioned by Roys, proved to be his own worst enemy. But the defense’s decision to put him on the stand was also an indication of the thinness of its case. The gamble was one of its few best chances to turn the jury around. Had Miller shown a hint of contrition, a bit of remorse, a sense of having once and since seen Mulhall as a man–as Miller himself, in his pride, was projecting himself to be–perhaps he might have tapped into lifelines the jury could relate to. But he didn’t. He came across as insulting and rude as he claimed others who challenged him were being to him. He illustrated the very behavior Roys was attempting to corral in her evidence: that Miller is a confrontational man, and that on that March 14, he had sought out Mulhall not merely to confront him, but to kill him.
The defense in its closing arguments made much of the fact that after the killing, Miller was cooperative, that he did not ditch the weapon, that he did not hide evidence, that he did not run away, that he cooperated with all law enforcement officers and investigators and attorneys who interviewed him again and again. That was to suggest that Miller had nothing to hide, and to equate that attitude with clean and therefore justified motives. But it was a false equivalency–which the prosecution never exploited–that implied that the act of gunning down a human being might be more justifiable if the killer is well behaved and cooperative afterward.
Miller’s cellmate at the Flagler County jail for several weeks after the shooting, before he was bailed out, was Carson Merrill, the man who’d “accidentally” shot his wife by training an AK-47 on her and pulling trigger. Merrill had called 911 too, had frantically tried to revive his wife and just as frantically cooperated with police and investigators afterward. He could not plead innocence, and the courtesy he displayed subsequent to the shooting, and immense contrition he showed throughout, did not change the facts of the case. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The two men may yet cross paths, though the Florida state prison system–the third largest in the country–is its own vast gulag of 100,000 inmates spread through 143 “facilities.”
Miller took his last steps as a free man, outside the courtroom, during the lunch hour, while the jury was deliberating. His last meal was at Wendy’s. When the family returned to the courthouse, it chose to wait in the hallway on the third floor rather than the fourth, in order to avoid reporters. Previously, Miller had flipped off a News-Journal photographer when the photographer was taking pictures of him: yet another indication that belied his claim to civility.
Miller showed little emotion as the verdict was read and as each juror was polled. His daughter and his wife cried, and were later overcome with emotion as they were ushered out of the courtroom. A third bailiff first ensured that Mulhall’s family exited the courtroom, to ensure that there would be no interaction between the families, then allowed Miller’s family to exit. Dana Mulhall’s mother, sitting on the opposite side of the room, had also cried when the verdict was announced, and was hugged by her daughter.
Miller attorney Carine Jarosz said it was too early to determine whether an appeal would follow.
The jury reached its verdict at 1 p.m., barely 90 minutes after beginning its deliberations at 11:25 a.m. It did so after it had ordered and eaten lunch, a process that lawyers familiar with jury deliberations say typically adds an hour to the deliberative process itself. That suggests that the verdict was actually reached more swiftly than in 90 minutes.
Lawyers were informed at 1:03 p.m. to return to the courtroom.
Miller walked back into the courtroom and sat, as he had all week, at the defense table, between his two attorneys, Doug Williams and Carine Jarosz. The judge walked in at 1:13 p.m. The jury followed a minute later, the foreman first, holding the white paper bearing the verdict, folded over once, which the judge soon asked for.
By 1:20 p.m., Paul Miller was gone.
Angela Mulhall spoke of her emotions during the trial, as she sat in a second-row pew for almost every session of the five-day ordeal: “A couple of times I did leave the room when, you know, they were more explicit in showing their pictures, and I didn’t want to be there. A lot of the things that were said—I just stayed away. I could imagine a lot of the things on my own. But very happy the way that it has turned out. Such a short deliberation.”
The prosecution spent one session going over Mulhall’s autopsy in detail, showing pictures of him, shot up, on the medical examiner’s table, each wound photographed up close–on the leg, through the upper knee, in his chest, in the back and through the neck–some showing directional rods going through the bullet holes, some showing Mulhall’s face, his eyes closed, his trademark redness vanished.
It was at 10 p.m. the night of March 14 that Karen and her husband walked upstairs to talk to Angela Mulhall and tell her what had taken place less than four hours earlier in the 30 or 40 seconds of insanity on South Flagler Avenue.
“I was in bed that night,” Angela remembered. “I had gone up to my room, and Karen and her husband came over, upstairs, and said that there had been an accident. She said it’s with Dana. And I said oh Lord, what happened, and what took place, and of course they both started crying and said, well, it’s worse than that. Dana didn’t make it.”
Karen had gotten a phone call through a circuitous route and had to make additional calls and receive additional calls to confirm Dana’s death.
The murder took place on a Wednesday evening. Three days earlier, Angela had called her son in Florida in what would be their last conversation. She does not remember what they spoke about. “It was just general conversation,” she said, “what he did, whether it was fishing, how work was going, same way with us up there. We gave him a lot of the news around town, people he knew, had grown up with, the family. Just general information of the moment, that’s about it.” His friends during the trial had spoken about Mulhall’s distaste for searching subjects like politics or religion. His bartender spoke of his fondness for idle chatter.
A high school graduate who immediately started working for a lumbering company in Jackman, in Maine, he’d never been in trouble with the law. The worst trouble he had was getting in a wreck with his pick-up truck back in Maine once. He was seriously injured a year and a half after he started working in lumbering, and was in hospital two months with a broken back, then was unable to do anything for many years. That was the reason he finally decided to come to Florida: the warmer weather, to ease the pain of the cold on his back.
He migrated to Florida, in other words, to regain his health. And he bought the house next-door to the property where, many years later, Paul Miller bought his.
Angela Mulhall was asked how she’s been coping with the loss. “Well, you don’t cope,” she said. “It’s something that’s going to stay with us somehow forever. We did come down often to visit with him. We made our phone calls with him almost every week or almost every other week to talk with him, you know, keeping up with him and he with us. He was the oldest of the family.” She noted that even though Mulhall lived in Flagler Beach, the family was very fortunate because “the people that we met, he had a second family here.”
Mulhall never married, never had children.
Welborn, his long-time girlfriend, said: “I just want us now to be able to move on, to get on with our lives.” Welborn said she’s met someone since, who has stood by her throughout the ordeal. “Dana and myself not together anymore was not by choice, and I just don’t want anyone to ever go through that feeling that I’ve had for so long. So I want to move on, I want to enjoy my life and I want to enjoy all of the memories of Dana, and I will, and so will his family.”
Let justice be served. His age did not earn him wisdom.
concerned citizen says
Finally justice for Mr. Mulhall. Well done!!!
So sad says
THANK GOD!!! PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED!!! Now RIP Dana. We will never forget!
I’m glad one jury got it right this week ……
Based on the descriptions of Mr. Miller’s testimony, he showed no regret for his actions. Glad justice was served.
Hope Danas Mom can finally get some closure. RIP Dana
Was he taken into custody or was he allowed to walk out and remain on bail pending sentencing?
Your updates answered the custody question.
Well, lets see how many more DRUNKS will be shot during the long hot summer months. Bars will be full and the alcohol will flow. DUI’s will be handed out like diploma’s at graduation. That’s right America, keep drinking that alcohol, keep getting drunk and starting trouble. Sometimes you run out of luck and the devil steps in .
Ayn Rand's Spleen says
Clearly, alcohol is the issue here and not the fact that he murdered someone without remorse.
Well it looks like the devils luck ran out …. And now he will spend the rest of his life in prison .. Where he belongs !!!!
It wasn’t the drunk that had a gun. No remorse. No feelings for the rest of the people that it affected.
Before you kill someone you should know that person is some one child, brother, sister, ect. Lots of people drink but never hurt anyone.
“Let’s see how many more drunks will be shot”
surely you are not serious…
Do you mean to imply that the victim was shot and killed because he drank alcohol?
Our Society is comprised of independent individuals that are responsible for their own actions.
You are attempting to stereotype everyone that drinks alcohol.
Yes, occasionally people get DUI’s, and sometimes people drink and then make trouble, It’s a small
percentage when compared to the number of people who drink, have a good time, and get home safe.
abuse does not dictate the standard
This cat got just what he had coming. Shooting someone in the back is clearly not self defense. It looks like the justice system shot his f……ing ass dont it. There are plenty of fences to shake where you are going. R.I.P. Dana.
Nicole Quail & Michael Mulhall says
Finally this person will be imprisoned; he has gotten to be home with family this whole past year, while Dana will never see his again. May he rot in prison.
What a joke says
Lol people you can’t blame alcohol. As an adult you should be responsible enough to not ABUSE it. Justice has been served and the judicial system proves you will be held accountable for your actions.
Alfred E. Newman says
This is what happens to YOU when you can’t control your temper.
Mr. Miller let the bad blood with his neighbor simmer for a long while, until it suddenly boiled over.
This is what happens to YOU if you’re too arrogant and ornery to be humble at your own murder trial.
Yes, Mr. Miller was just begging to be incarcerated for the rest of his days.
He shot his neighbor, who happened to be on his own property.
What a colossally stupid, and cold-blooded thing to do.
Henry Van Der Werff says
Superb coverage of the trial by Flagler Live
Pamala Zill says
I am relieved this verdict has been reached. I am horrified some good ol ‘boy’s still are fighting the Civil War In Flaglerlagler County. I very real reason to be Disgusted and embarrassed to admit I actually live here My heartfelt sympathy to Danas family and friends.
Seminole Pride says
@ Pamala Zill – If my Civil War Historian background is confirmed. Tennessee, where Paul Miller is from did secede from the Union, but there were a lot of Pro Union sentiments in the mountains, and East Tennessee.
Also the Vice President of the United States was from Tennessee, Andrew Johnson was a Union loyalist, as were a number of congressmen and state representatives. So I believe your comment holds inaccuracy.
Sherry Epley says
How very tragic and terribly sad for all those involved. . . and for the broken hearts of their loved ones. If only that loaded gun were not so handy, this senseless situation could have been completely avoided.
The anger and complete lack of compassion displayed by the commentors is even more sad and worrying. What is our world coming to?
Nancy N. says
I agree Sherry…a lot of well-deserved sympathy has been heaped on the Mulhall family. I’d like to extend mine to Mr. Miller’s wife and family as well. They did nothing wrong but will be paying a tragic price for their loved one’s actions. Their lives will never be the same again. They are Mr Miller’s victims too. :(
So sad says
Dana is my cousin and the feelings that I have towards Mr. Miller do NOT extend to his family. You are right Nancy N. They did nothing wrong. They were not there that fateful evening. They were only told their loved one’s version of the events. So many lives have been affected by one man’s actions. I hope for peace for Mr. Miller’s family as well as mine.
For the people blaming the alcohol, I don’t at all understand your reasoning. Dana’s drinking did not kill Mr. Miller. Mr. Miller was sober when he committed this murder. It was a man with an attitude and a gun NOT a man who had stopped for a few drinks after work that ruined all of these lives. For you to make it sound like Dana deserved this…hurtful, hateful and disgusting to me.
Johnny Taxpayer says
Hat’s off to flaglerlive for the outstanding coverage of this trial.
Been here a few years, and I can attest that his enmity towards non-southerners is echoed by many native mid and northern Floridians.
The old saying is indeed true: The further north you go in Florida, the further into the south you get.
Alfred E. Newman says
Ron Hubbard says
If he was a Hollywood personality or a Democrat politician, the verdict would have been quite different and he would have walked. Oh yes, that is based on historical fact.
There is a difference between Southern pride and hatred. It is ingrained and indifferent. The Civil War is over.
Excellent coverage by FlaglerLive on this story and many others. I am consistently impressed by the thorough and straightforward news I get on this website. This site truly lives up to it’s motto, “No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges.” Nice photography to boot! Keep up the good work.
Let’s see how surly he is with the prison guards
Nancy N. says
I can definitely say from first hand experience as the wife of an inmate that if he tries to cop the attitude with guards (or even other inmates) that he did in court, his life in prison will be extremely unpleasant. The fastest way to get to solitary confinement is a disciplinary write-up for “disrespecting an officer” and they have a pretty broad definition of “disrespect”. He’ll learn to say yes sir, no sir, and to only speak when spoken to really fast if he knows what is good for him.
So sad says
I wish someone had taught him respect BEFORE it came to this. Still so sad. Something the we will never get over in our lifetime. Its something that happens to other families..not your own. It has been a nightmare for so many. I wish the clock could go backwards…
Shot him in the BACK, that says it all
Sherry Epley says
It seems as though some people have not followed the details of this story. . . perhaps they got confused about who actually had a few beers. The person who shot the “all too handy” gun (Paul Miller) did not stop for a couple of beers after work. The victim in this case (Dana Mulhall) did, but that does not make him deserving of being shot.
I still contend that if Mr. Miller did not have a loaded gun at his finger tips, this would have ended with heated words between neighbors and nothing more. Pet Smart has a $40 device for training dogs to stop barking, folks.
To honor Dana, let’s learn from this tragedy and bring back the friendly charm and hospitality “The South” used to be known for. . . let’s love our neighbors as our family. Let’s move forward in a positive way with open hearts and understanding minds. We need to begin a healing of the negative feelings expressed over this terrible, terrible incident in our community.
My own heart goes out to BOTH of these families and loved ones at this very painful time.
Excellent reporting of a news, a news that I can’t define as making me”happy” ..heck NO. But instead made me very satisfied that Justice Has Been Served to Dana and my deepest appreciation to all those jurors for their veredict! Like I thought from the start that the murder was the action triggered by the foolish, perversive still “good old boy hate”, trying to keep alive the divide between North and South.
We are all Americans North, South, East and West, that deserve our lives to be respected!!
My sincere sympathy and best wishes to Dana’s Mom and family and also to the family of Paul Miller.
Thank You “FLAGLER LIVE” Your Coverage of Our County is Second To “NONE” !!!!! Mr. Miller, Welcome to The Florida State Dept. of Corrections, Its Now Your “HOME” for the Rest of Your “LIFE” Since Ya Took Dana”s Away For Nothing But Your “STUPIDITY”!!! You Should Have Walked Back in Your Home , Closed the Door and If need Be , Called 911!!! You Would Be Home and Dana Would be Alive!!!!!! Bet You Wish The Same??????? Bottom Line is You Will Have Plenty of Time to Think About it, in Your “CELL” God Bless the Jury in This Case, Justice is “SERVED”!!!!!!!!!!!! (RIP) Dana !!!!!!