19-year-old accused of killing transgender teen won’t face death penalty
A Pulaski County prosecutor on Monday said the state will waive the death penalty in the case of a 19-year-old from Sherwood whom authorities have accused of slaying a North Little Rock teenager last summer.
Wearing glasses and a face mask, Trevone Hayse Miller appeared on video from the Pulaski County jail for the teleconference hearing. He has been jailed since last summer.
Miller was arrested by Sherwood police in July, a week after a transgender teen was discovered dead June 25 in a vehicle parked near a walking path off Gap Creek Drive.
The victim, 17-year-old Braylen Stone, who went by Brayla, died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to a Pulaski County coroner’s office report.
John Johnson, chief deputy prosecuting attorney for the 6th Judicial District which encompasses Pulaski and Perry counties, told Judge Barry A. Sims during Monday’s hearing that he had informed defense counsel the death penalty will be waived.
Miller’s defense attorney Toney Brasuell asked that another status conference be scheduled “to give us some additional time to get through discovery.”
Johnson told the judge that the defense had been provided a disc with “a fair amount” of discovery materials on it.
At Sims’ suggestion, both sides agreed to return for another conference in approximately 45 days, June 1, at which time they could set a trial date.
Stone’s murder attracted significant attention last year from social-media users in the days after her death amid reports of other violent acts frequently targeting transgender individuals, which the American Medical Association has called an “epidemic.”
Miller was formally charged with capital murder in August. Because prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty, if convicted, he can expect to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It’s unclear when Miller’s case might go to trial. The Arkansas Supreme Court last week said jury trials in state courts could resume in early May after trials were placed on hold in November because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Stone’s murder marks the second time Miller has been charged in connection with a shooting death of a Sherwood teenager.
In 2016, Miller and two co-defendants were accused of orchestrating the robbery and fatal shooting of Bryan Allen Thompson, 17, in the parking lot of a Sherwood recreation center. Miller was 14 at the time. His capital murder charge was dropped and a charge of aggravated robbery was transferred to juvenile court as a result of a deal with prosecutors in which Miller agreed to testify against his co-defendants.
Both of the other accused teenagers ultimately pleaded guilty.