Murder victim's mother gives an emotional testimony - - The News for South Mississippi

Murder victim's mother gives an emotional testimony

Nicholas Marcell DeMorst (Photo source: Jackson County Sheriff's Department) Nicholas Marcell DeMorst (Photo source: Jackson County Sheriff's Department)
Hunter Miller (Photo source: WLOX) Hunter Miller (Photo source: WLOX)

The capital murder trial of Nicholas Marcell DeMorst began Monday in Pascagoula with a tearful testimony from the victim's mother.

Hunter Miller, 26, of Biloxi, was shot to death in a Gautier neighborhood the night of Jan. 14, 2014. DeMorst is charged with capital murder in Miller's death.

During opening arguments, Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade told the jury Miller and DeMorst did not know each other. Wade said Miller met up with DeMorst to buy pills, but DeMorst had another plan.

"He planned to lure Hunter to a dark street on a dark night and planned to rob him and not give him the pills," Wade said. "He spent the next year trying to cover up the crime."

Wade told the jury what prosecutors believe happened. She said Miller called his friend, Jenny Bourgeois, looking for pills. Bourgeois' boyfriend, prosecutors said, then called Kenneth Knox, who got in touch with DeMorst, known as LA because he's from California, to sell Miller pills.

During the day of Jan. 14, according to prosecutors, Miller, Bourgeois and Miller's best friend, Collin Cooper, went to Knox's house in Gautier. Knox could not get in touch with DeMorst, and they all ended up leaving.

Later in the evening, Wade said Knox talked with DeMorst and called Miller to come back to Gautier. Miller, Cooper and Knox, prosecutors said, went to the College Park subdivision to meet up with DeMorst. DeMorst was at an abandoned house on University Street, and Wade said he motioned for Miller to pull up "nose-to-nose" with their car.

According to Wade, DeMorst went up to the car window and talked to Miller about the pills. Cooper said he got a bad feeling and asked Knox to go find out what was going on with DeMorst. When Knox got out of the car, Wade told jurors, he saw DeMorst cock a gun and run. Miller and Cooper also saw the gun and tried to back out of the driveway and duck in the car, but prosecutors said DeMorst fired the gun and a bullet struck Miller in the side.

Wade told jurors that Cooper testified Miller said, "He shot me. I'm dying."

According to Wade, Cooper tried to grab the steering wheel as Miller went in and out of consciousness, but the car wrecked into a fence outside College Park Elementary School.

Wade told the jury how investigators tracked down DeMorst and then stepped away from the podium.

DeMorst's attorney, Wayne Woodall, stood up next. Woodall told the jury his client is Nicholas DeMorst, but he is not the person who shot and killed Miller.

Woodall said DeMorst was with his girlfriend and her family on Jan. 14, 2014. He said they were working on a car, and DeMorst went to pick up the car at the same time Miller was shot to death.

"Nicholas DeMorst didn't kill Hunter Miller. He didn't pull a gun, and he didn't kill him," Woodall said. "They didn't get the killer. Pay close attention to testimony."

After closing arguments ended, District Attorney Tony Lawrence called Miller's mother to the stand. Lawrence put a picture up on a projector and asked Suzanna Miller if that was her son Hunter Miller. Crying, she answered, "Yes it is."

Suzanna described her son.

“I know you think it's cliché I'm saying this because I'm his mother, but he could light up a room,” she said. “When he walked into a room, everyone knew it.”

Suzanna described her son as smart, a good writer and an unbelievable artist, but she admitted he struggled with prescription pill addiction.

“It was devastating,” she said.

She described how she and Hunter's dad did everything they could to get him to stop it. They sent him to rehab five or six times.

“He became dependent very fast. It screwed up his life and killed us as parents,” said Suzanna.

Overcome with emotion, Suzanna talked about the last time she saw her son. She said it was about a week and a half before his death.

“It was an awesome day,” she recalled. “I guess God did this to me, but when I saw him that day, I was so excited to see him. I hugged him so tight and kissed him on the lips.”

She said he was energetic and in a good mood and told her he came by to “check on his little brother and to see my mother smile.”

Lawrence asked Suzanna about when she learned her son had been murdered. She tried to compose herself, saying her son's fiancé called her that night. After Suzanna managed to get those words out, she could not stop crying.

Lawrence and Woodall let Suzanna off the stand.

A 911 operator was called to testify next. Out loud in the courtroom, one of the 911 calls that came in reporting the shooting was played. After his testimony, the judge told the jury they would be in recess until Tuesday.

Court is set to resume Tuesday morning. Michelle Lady will be there and bring you the latest throughout the day on, WLOX News and on Twitter.

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