Last week, I started reading this book Why Miller Turned Killer. It was recommended to me, but I was warned that it was unlike any book I had read before, not written in the traditional way, and part 3 of it was dark. It is indeed not a book I would have picked at once, but I’m glad I did.
Manslaughter vs Murder
The author, Eric Lokian (a pen name which he has to use according to prison policies – his real name, Eric Miller, is revealed in the book), is incarcerated in Iowa for murder. In this book, he talks about his childhood, depression, and events that led to a manslaughter (self defense) that was charged as murder in the first degree.
Miller’s tone throughout the book is conversational and sometimes raw, and it feels as if he is directly chatting with you, letting you inside his head. He talks about his childhood and adolescence as a preacher’s son, being bullied in school, his time in college, and the rage he held within, due to events from his childhood. It’s a rage that boiled inside of him over the years, and as the story unfolds, you can clearly recognize the signs of depression. l often wonder what would (or would not) have happened if Miller had received any help for his depression …
Sometimes, Miller adds a funny tone, and you can’t help grinning at a certain reminiscence or his clever jokes. Even if the book is not written in the traditional way, the author knows how to tell a story, a real life story. In my personal opinion, the way he wrote this book adds to its originality. He couldn’t have written it better in any other way.
He also raises some interesting questions about religion and shares his views on bullying, abuse and counter-abuse, and related topics.
Mental Health Needs More Awareness
Why Miller Turned Killer is not only the story of a man convicted of homicide, but of a healthy mind that slips from anger to darkness. This book addresses a topic that even today is still not discussed enough and is often swept under the rug or just not taken seriously: depression.
Depression must be taken seriously, especially nowadays with so much information available online, especially now that so many of us are going through covid lockdown, and not even because of that, even before covid. Having been through depression myself (years ago) I know all too well the thoughtless comments that one can get, such as “get over it”, “we all got stuff to deal with” which are not helpful and often make things worse.
Depression is misunderstood and when you don’t get the help you need, it may have grim consequences. Suicide is not the only danger. Throughout this book the author described actions he took that are clear symptoms of depression, for example extremely reckless behavior, like climbing up a high pole with a can of beer. All of the symptoms he described seemed to have gone unnoticed by others near him …
Reckless behavior is a symptom of depression, more notable in men.
Justice or Winning a Case?
At the end of the book, the author shares info about the interrogation, the trial, and legal terminology regarding his case. Although I am not familiar with the laws or court proceedings in Iowa (or in general), you do not need a law degree to see that he has been over-convicted.
More importantly, I wonder why his depression wasn’t even taken into account. I finished this book with many questions, most of them a loud “why?!”
Was the prosecution so set on winning that it didn’t care about destroying another man’s life? Was winning the case the only thing that mattered to them instead of delivering justice, turning manslaughter into murder?
The author clearly admits to what he did and why and how it happened, and he acknowledges his guilt, but the way this case was handled raises a lot of questions. I also wonder about the defense team, why they didn’t do a better job …why they didn’t fight harder …
To know the full story, I recommend that you read Miller’s account. You can get the book here on Amazon.
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Why did I decide to write about this book since most blog posts on my website cover other themes? The story spoke to me. It made me rethink a lot of what I used to think. Watching the show “I am a Killer” on Netflix also gives you a glimpse in the mind of the men who are imprisoned for their crimes; and it’s eye-opening really. For me, it isn’t easy to watch; nevertheless, I will continue with this series.
Twenty years ago I was a victim of several crimes, and I have always had stark black and white opinions of consequences for a crime, but there is not always such a thing as black and white; and justice isn’t always rightly served, either to the victim or perpetrator. The series and this book made me re-evaluate many things.
Perhaps it was time for me to learn about the other side of the coin, to see the human side, and learn that justice – unfortunately – isn’t always about justice but only about winning a case or a conviction. … just winning … while others lose … everything … Sometimes not one but two families are destroyed …