Eddie Lee "Pops" Miles Jr. will serve a minimum of five years in state prison, Judge Charles Zambito ruled this afternoon in Genesee County Court.
Last month, the native of Batavia with a long criminal history -- 20 arrest dates and 50 charges -- accepted a "global plea agreement" and made a factual admission of guilt to three felonies that were among multiple charges brought in three grand jury indictments.
There was a bizarre incident in August wherein he allegedly grabbed a 17-year-old girl from behind who has walking "Zeus," a dog he had owned then let a neighbor family adopt. He was charged with choking her; she dropped to the ground and he then allegedly injected the hapless dog with an unknown purple liquid. He ran off, saying he would be back, according to witnesses.
Chaos ensued. The dog became unresponsive and started twitching, the choking victim sobbed and was extremely distraught. An animal control officer and emergency first responders arrived.
"The dog is still skittish. It refused to go outside, would curl up," Assistant DA Kevin Finnell told the judge. "It's depressed. Afterward, some man called and said (to a victim) 'Pops is going to kill you, bitch.' "
Finnell added, "If that's not bad enough, that's the misdemeanors." The cases -- for obstructing a person's breathing or blood flow and animal torture were pending in city court but dismissed under the plea agreement carried out today.
Finnell continued: "This man is selling drugs in this community to make money, supplement his income...his lengthy criminal history has run the gamut from menacing and second-degree assault to criminal mischief and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree; DWI..one officer says he has had numerous contacts with him over the course of two decades. He's violent."
Last fall, he was arrested for selling crack cocaine to drug task force agents so he could make some extra spending money.
On Sunday, Jan. 7, he admitted he drank two bottles of booze. He got in a big fight with his girlfriend and set fire to a couch in his apartment in a multi-family dwelling on Washington Avenue. He threatened the life of his girlfriend, threatened to shoot police who responded, and caused other families to be displaced when he started a fire where they lived.
But in statements contained in the presentencing report, Miles, who's in his late 40s, had some alternative facts to share.
He claimed his girlfriend became angry that day because he was "blaring the radio"; he claimed that she was the aggressor -- "she caused all this" -- punching out a window and arguing and that when police arrived, he didn't want to go outside because he was still in his bathrobe.
A fire broke out. "Fire just started," was how Miles put it in the report, subsequently hypothesizing that under the attic door a gas can be found and his girlfriend smoking a cigarette somehow ignited the gas can and started the fire. Arson investigators said there was not sufficient heat in the cigarette to cause the damage.
The judge disputed Mile's version of events by noting that Miles put a couch in front of the door, creating a blockade against his girlfriend's attempt to leave. When he went to the back of the apartment, she seized her chance to escape by breaking out a window, climbing onto the second-story eave and jumping off; not the actions of an aggressor.
In the presentencing investigation (PSI) report, he was asked why the police responded to his residence on Jan. 7.
"I don't know why the police were there," Miles responded, according to Finnell, adding that the girlfriend told officers Miles blocked the door, punched her, held her hostage and had a gun.
The convicted felon denied having a gun that day. He was taken to UMMC for evaluation. But when Batavia Police Det. Richard Schauf went there to interview Miles afterward, Miles asked him "Did you find the gun?"
Finnell argued that Miles deserved the maximum penalty for terrorizing his girlfriend, his landlord, and his neighbors.
"He needs to be segregated from the community as long as possible," Finnell said.
Public defense attorney Jamie Welch said the PSI indicates Miles did not take responsibility for his actions. Welch argued that while that point is debatable, his client's expression of regret is not.
Welch acknowledged the sparsity of leeway granted to the judge in sentencing for arson. But said his client deserved "to be commended" going forward if he continues to maintain the sobriety that incarceration has brought.
Finnell attempted to read a victim statement in open court and Miles' attorneys called for a sidebar. Afterward, the judge determined the letter could not be read aloud by Finnell in court. Only a letter from the victim of a violent felony can have a statement read, it clearly says so in the statute, Zambito said. This letter writer, although a victim, was not directly a victim of a violent felony in the Miles' case.
*Nonetheless the judge allowed the statement to be attached to the PSI for the court record and a copy was given to Miles' attorneys (the other one being Marty Anderson).
The woman who wrote the letter said Miles was polite when they first met, but his behavior changed; Welch said that was because Miles has had lifelong addiction problems and his behavior took a turn for the worse last year after he became "reinvolved" with his addictions.
Before sentencing, Miles spoke to the court.
"I'd like to ask the court to forgive me for all my actions," Miles said, standing in his orange outfit, hands shackled, wearing orange Crocs on his feet. "If I could take back January 7th, I would."
He said he felt ashamed of his behavior and the bad publicity it has generated for himself and his family. He said he drank two bottles of liquor and his world fell apart; he lost the woman he has loved for 15 years, displaced his neighbors, frightened the homeowner and now faces a long stint in prison.
Zambito told Miles not to ask his forgiveness, but that of those he has harmed. He said he is particularly concerned about domestic violence perpetrated by Miles going back many years and noted the arson itself was an act of domestic violence, one that threatened the girlfriend's life and affected many others -- the neighbors, the firefighters, law enforcement, first responders.
The Swat Team was called in.
"It goes to show the level of professionalism of the law enforcement community here," Zambito said, adding that he can't fathom how Miles didn't get shot by police. "You see it every day, somebody gets the wrong end of a gun every day.
"You are unwilling or incapable of obeying the law," Zambito said. "You have no respect for human life, for animal life, for property, for your neighbors, for the law."
Having read the presentencing report he ordered for this case and reviewing Miles' extensive criminal history, Genesee County Court Judge Charles Zambito said he was disinclined to cut him any slack for his terrifying behavior on Jan. 7.
Next Miles was sentenced on: one count of third-degree arson, a Class C felony, for which prison is mandated. He will serve the maximum -- five to 15 years, indeterminate; one count of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, a Class B felony, and will serve the minimum -- five and a half years with two years of post-release supervision (the max was nine years with three years post-release supervision).
The two sentences will run concurrently.
Sentencing on the third count -- second-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle, a Class E felony, is delayed until Aug. 13, pending submission of blood-test results to the court. It could garner one and a third to four years of prison time, which would run concurrently.
Failure to submit to the test or provide the test results to the court would void the plea agreement and subject Miles to maximum sentencing guidelines.
Four orders of protection were put in place until June 22, 2041. Miles had a check for $425 ready pay for his fees and surcharges.
*Here is a victim statement that was provided to The Batavian by Rebecca Eldridge (née LaRock), who says her family is no longer remaining silent about what they have endured. She gave us permission to publish it and use her name. It is not the same statement put in the court record today.
"After 1 year my voice, my family's voice, my daughter's voice and my four-legged son Zeus's voice were finally heard today. Although our case was dismissed as part of Miles' plea deal, our voices were heard by judge Zambito today.
"Through the past year since this attack on my family, our lives are still forever changed. The effects of this man Eddie Miles Jr. still remain. For 1 year my family has sat silent and in hesitation and fear. We have kept quiet and silent to be sure to not hinder in any way the prosecution of Mr. Miles.
"My family and I have been threatened and harassed; we have been blasted by comments on social media and Batavia news and crime sites. We have been called liars by people in the community because all aspects of the case were not reported by them.
"Eddie Miles Jr. is a despicable human being who continues to be a threat to our community. It is my daughter's hope, my four-legged son Zeus's hope and my family's hope, that this man's life be less than the sentence the court imposed on him today!
"It is our hope that this disgusting human never again be blessed to own an animal in his lifetime. It is our hope that every ounce of karma comes back 1,000-fold to this man. It is our hope that he spends every day of the remainder of his life thinking of all that he has done and all those he has hurt and the lives and the families that have been forever changed by his deplorable, shameful and continued criminal actions in this community!
"My family is not the only ones that were affected by this man's actions. I broke my silence in court today in support of them also and to hopefully give them some strength as well. Mr. Miles deserves nothing less than the maximum sentence on all charges that were before the court today and ones that are still pending in court.
"The maximum sentence that he receives today gives my family some peace and a feeling of calmness knowing that we will never again have to look at this man. If I could speak to Mr. Miles directly today I would say to him 'Mr Miles I hope you never have a day of freedom again. I hope every ounce of what you have done through your life to hurt and harm others comes back on you one thousand fold.'
"May God never forgive you for such acts, Just as my daughter will never forgive you, and just as Zeus will never forgive you, and just as my family and members of this community as a whole will never forgive you. I hope that my words and the truth of them today stabs and stings like a needle in your neck and poison in your soul just as you did to my son Zeus!
"I hope that my family is lack of silence today takes your breath away just says it did to my innocent daughter when you choked her! I am glad that the court showed no mercy today. I hope your last breath is taken in a cell because you deserve no less.
"God will judge you in the end Mr. Miles and God's judgment is clear; it is full, and it is unending and just. One day whether it's before a courtroom judge or in the future before God alone, you will be judged justly for the actions of your life."