MARSHALL, Mo. -- A murder charge is dropped, and a suspect is now a free man after a prosecutor with the Missouri Attorney General’s office decided not to try to go forward with the case earlier this week.
James Scott Miller was charged with the shooting death of his stepson, 31-year-old Joshua Smith, in December of 2018 following an altercation at his home.
Members of the victim’s family said they want answers and another look at the case.
“A lot of us are very angry, and we are confused and want some answers," Desiree Thompson, the victim’s sister, said. "How do you go from one month, saying that, 'Hey, we’ve got a really strong case. This is going to be good,' and then, all of a sudden, with really no explanation, 'Sorry, we’re dropping the charges. He’s going to walk free.'"
FOX4 also talked to Thompson in July of 2019. At the time, she said her family was upset about the Miller's bond release. Within days of the arrest, he was released on a $500,000 cash-only bond. He was arrested a second time on a bond violation, but he posted bond yet again and was released.
The sudden dismissal of charges came as a shock.
“It makes me feel hopeless, just the justice system is not working the way it is supposed to,” Thompson said. “[Joshua] deserves justice. He didn’t deserve to die that night.”
The AG’s office released a statement saying, “the evidence does not warrant charges."
It's the very same claim that Miller’s defense attorney, Daniel Ross, said he had been arguing from the beginning.
“It was a clear case of lawful self-defense. I think it was undisputed, even by police evidence,” Ross said. “There was no evidence to contradict what my client did was lawful to protect himself and his wife, who was also present at his own home.”
Ross also said he believes the charges could have been dismissed sooner.
“A lot of time was spent trying to obtain all the evidence from law enforcement and local prosecutor's office, and it took many, many months for them to turn over the complete files,” Ross said.
Thompson and other family members of the victim said they are still trying to understand the latest development in the case while they also figure out what to do next.
“Hopefully, we can get this story out there, and somebody will see it and say, 'Hmm, that doesn’t sound right.' We’re hoping somebody will have an idea or know something we don’t know, and there is still some hope,” Thompson said.
Miller, who had been on pre-trial house arrest, is free.
The victim, Joshua Smith, leaves behind a wife and three children.