Miller enters not guilty plea, gets court appointed lawyer

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The Carter County man charged with the February murder of a young Elizabethton mother appeared in court on Friday and was appointed an attorney. He also entered a plea of not guilty to the charges against him.
   Robert Lee "Bob" Miller, 45, 221 Bill Nave Loop, appeared before Judge Robert Cupp in Carter County Criminal Court and had local attorney Clifton Corker appointed to represent him.
   Miller was indicted by a Carter County Grand Jury Tuesday morning and arrested later that day on charges of first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated rape in the death of 22-year-old Kristal Dubuque.
   At the time of Miller's arrest, Assistant District Attorney Mark Hill said that the death penalty will be considered in the case against Miller but ultimately that decision would be left up to District Attorney General Joe Crumley.
   According to statements made in court on Friday, the district attorney's office is not currently considering the death penalty. "It does not appear that the District Attorney is going to seek the death penalty," said Corker following Miller's appearance in court. "That's what the judge said and Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin confirmed that."
   When asked what kind of sentence Miller could face if he is convicted of the charges against him, Corker said that the standard sentence is life with the possibility of parole which is equal to 52 years in prison.
   According to police reports, Dubuque was reported missing on Feb. 16 by her mother, Gale Gentry, who said that her daughter had been missing since 10 p.m. on Feb. 15. "She said she'd been in contact with Dubuque's employer, who she identified as Bob Miller," Elizabethton Police Department Sgt. Jack Ramsey said at the time of Dubuque's disappearance. "She said that Miller told her that he had dropped Dubuque off at her car, which was parked at the Sunoco on U.S. Highway 91, subsequent to her assisting him on a surveillance on Blue Springs Road."
   Dubuque's car was discovered parked underneath the Hunter Bridge on Broad Street Extension with the front wheels of the vehicle in the water on the morning of February 16. Two days later, on Feb. 18, Dubuque's body was found lying on the bank of the river behind a residence in Lynn Valley, approximately one-quarter of a mile downstream from where her vehicle had been found.
   Gentry, along with her husband, Dubuque's stepfather David Gentry, were in attendance for Miller's first appearance in court. Following the court proceedings, both expressed their disappointment that the District Attorney appears to not be considering the death penalty.
   "I would like to see the death penalty," Gale Gentry said. "She didn't have a choice so why should he."
   When Miller walked into the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit with Johnson County printed on the back, Gale Gentry could be seen staring at him. "I never took my eyes off of him. Every time he is in court he will see me. Where ever they put him, I will move to where he can see me," she said. "I will focus on him. That's what I did today and he couldn't take it."
   Since his arrest on May 4, Miller has been transferred to the Johnson County Jail to be housed there.
   Gale Gentry said on Friday that one of the hardest parts of the tragedy so far for the family has been realizing that her young grandson, Dubuque's now 22-month-old son Skylar, will grow up without his mother. She said that she thinks Skylar in a way knows that his mother is gone but he does not really understand that yet.
   "I have this one picture of her that he really likes," she said. "He'll put his rocking chair right next to it and just rock. Then he'll lean over and kiss it.
   "I wish it could be her but it's just a picture."
   Miller is next scheduled to appear in court on July 1.