Scroll To Top

Life sentence
reinstated for gay man's killer

Life sentence
reinstated for gay man's killer

The Illinois supreme court has reinstated a life sentence for a man convicted in the 1988 decapitation of a 23-year-old gay man from Murphysboro. The court on Thursday reversed a fifth district appellate court's decision to reduce Richard C. Nitz's sentence to 60 years.

"It has been a long 18-year battle with Mr. Nitz," said Williamson County state's attorney Charles Garnati. "He will spend the rest of his days and die in prison, which is where he belongs."

Authorities have said Nitz beat Michael Miley unconscious with a baseball bat in Williamson County and then drove him to a remote area in Union County where he shot Miley in the head before decapitating him. Miley's body was found April 6, 1988.

Nitz initially was sentenced to death for the murder, but he appealed his 1996 conviction and was granted a new trial. That trial ended with his conviction on one of three counts of first-degree murder. He was acquitted on the two other counts. Authorities have said the attack was motivated by Nitz's hatred of gay people.

The Illinois supreme court ordered the appellate court in 2004 to determine if a jury would have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder "was accompanied by brutal and heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty." In reaching its opinion, the appellate court relied on documents from the second trial that contained statements from a juror who said she doubted Nitz's guilt and reluctantly voted to convict because she thought he would be eligible for a more lenient sentence.

But the supreme court said in its opinion that while the testimony doesn't support wanton cruelty because Miley already was dead when he was decapitated, it is "cold-blooded to sever and conceal a victim's head." "While it does not indicate wanton cruelty, it does indicate brutality," the opinion said. "Thus, the evidence supports a finding that the defendant's crime was, at the least, brutal." (AP)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff