Why MIller Turned Killer

Why Miller Turned Killer – Manslaughter vs Murder

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.

Related: How do I Write an E-Book?

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.

Why Miller Turned Killer - Manslaughter vs Murder

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 …

pole

Reckless behavior is a symptom of depression, more notable in men.

Related: Writing to an Inmate

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? In my opinion, it was no justice.

courtroom
Photo by Jeremy McGilvrey on Unsplash

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 indicates gross injustice and abuse of the court. 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.

This is one of these cases that should have a spot on the Netflix show “I am a Killer”, to get the word out. Eric Miller deserves to tell his tale.

Amazon disclaimer: as an Amazon associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you. 

Final Thoughts

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.

black and white contrast
Photo by Philippe Leone on Unsplash

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 …

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Comments

  1. Hi Christine, wow what a post! It reminds me of those crime documentaries you see where you’re constantly trying to figure out whether the person has been rightly convicted, whether all the evidence adds up etc. It’s also kind of terrifying how different states have such different punishments (for example those where the death penalty is imposed compared to those that aren’t, and what happens if someone’s wrongly convicted etc.) I don’t know anything about this case, but from what you’ve said it sounds like he’s been very honest and owned up to what he has done, so it would definitely be interesting to read what he has to say. I tend to stay away from reads that are quite dark but I think books like this are important. You’re right, mental health is such a complex issue and often sadly the right help is not given when needed. So sorry to hear that you were the victims of some crimes. It is shocking to think that for some people it is more about ‘winning’ a case than about whether justice is actually being served. I hope that this is something that will change for the better in the future!

    1. Hi Natalie,

      It’s indeed terrifying how different states have different punishments, and not knowing if someone is truly guilty or might be innocent while still imposing harsh punishments … The chapter about the author’s trial indicates several oversights that should not have happened. It’s shocking really. If this can happen to one, then to how many others can it or has it already happened?
      Thank you very much for your comment!

  2. Hi Christine,
    Thanks for taking the time to review this book; it sounds really interesting. I particularly like your analysis of how mental illness plays a key role in such heinous crimes; although not an excuse, it certainly provides some insight into how something like this can happen

  3. Wow, this book sounds very appealing! I have always been interested in true-crime. I have seen, “I am a Killer” on Netflix as well, along with the “Ted Bundy Tapes” and “Casting Jonbenet.” It really makes you question everything you knew (or thought you knew) to be true, and gives you a different perspective — learning about such harsh events really makes me appreciate life and encourages me to keep an open mind and not always see things in black and white.

    The last crime-themed novel I read was, “The Death of Innocence : The Untold Story of JonBenet’s Murder and How Its Exploitation Compromised the Pursuit of Truth”, but I did not enjoy it very much. I am seriously considering reading, “Why Miller Turned Killer,” though! It sounds like a very worthwhile read. Thank you for such a thorough review!

    1. Hi Darcy,

      I feel the same way. I appreciate life more, our freedom to move around, I have begun to see things from a different perspective too.
      The JonBenet story was terrible, I never read the book or saw a documentary about it, but there was a huge media coverage of it, which may have done more harm than good … right? I saw the movie about Ted Bundy (with Zac Efron). I wasn’t sure about watching the Ted Bundy tapes, is it good?

      I hope you give Why Miller Turned Killer a go. And it would be so great if you could leave an Amazon review when you finish reading it (if you decide to get it) 🙂
      Thanks for your comment!

  4. In real life, black and white do not exist, and yet our legal systems are set up so that the verdict is just that, guilty or not guilty.

    There is always so much depth to any story, whether it be good or bad, and the actions we take are never solely in response to one ‘act’ but are a culmination of a lifetime of programming that has led to our unique character.

    It’s sad when peoples ego’s get the better of them, like in the case of the prosecutor, who it sounds like was out to win at any cost…. regardless of the consequences to another human being’s life!

    I feel for Miller, and others like him who have been given the ‘rough end of the stick,’ so to speak. It really doesn’t sound like justice has been served from your account of the book, and really, does any form of punishment really ever result in ‘justice?’

    I think ‘understanding’ is far more important that ‘blaming’ and will result in better outcomes for all concerned and our societies as a whole. I don’t think we can consider ourselves truly civilized until we stop killing some people in retribution, and locking others up so that they are out of sight and out of mind.

    Thanks for an interesting post 🙂

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I couldn’t agree more. Miller has indeed been given the rough end of the stick and I feel that it was more about winning a case with a smashing “victory” for the prosecution instead of delivering true justice. The law section at the end of Miller’s book is very interesting and demonstrates some laws that should have given him a sentence for manslaughter. Why those laws were ignored is beyond me.
      Thank you for your valuable comment!

  5. Recently I’ve got really into these books and videos that are about going inside the mind of a killer. It’s very often so overlooked that a killer is a human being too and that they might have grown into this because of their circumstances. It doesn’t justify the murdering of course. Thank you for the recommendation and I’m buying it right now!

    1. Hi there,

      Very true, we often forget the background story. Although taking someone else’s life is never justified, there are many more things we must look at and in Eric Miller’s case a whole lot was overlooked by his lawyers, the judge, and the jury. Manslaughter should not have been punished as murder, in my opinion.

      Thank you for buying the book! If you liked it, could you leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads for the author? 

      Have a great day!

  6. This is an interesting case of injustice. I would like to read Miller’s account. You have sparked my curiosity to see how this story unfolds.

    It sure must be a book different from most books. And even reading this description, we perceive there is a big story waiting to be read. Thank you for calling our attention to it.

    1. Hi Abel,

      Yes, a different kind of injustice that seems to happen all the time in the US where life sentences are handed out excessively … 

  7. Hi Christine

    This is indeed a dark subject. I can well appreciate that someone who has been a victim of gross injustice would want to explore other sides or aspects. I can understand why you would want to read about a case from the inside as it were, where justice was doled out by what we all refer to as the system to a perpetrator who is also themselves a victim. I know this is going to sound weird but one o my favorite Shakespeare quotes is – Fair is foul and foul is fair – I always understood that to mean that once you become corrupted you lose your capacity to distinguish between the corrupt and the non-corrupt. We see that all the time in the great divides in our society today. People who are corrupt assume everyone else is and basically can’t believe that anyone else is not corrupt. I can see there is another way that this Shakespearean quote comes into play. When perpetrators are themselves also victims and that is somehow mixed up with the victim of what the legal system has recognized as a crime, then things can get very murky. What’s more, working out what real justice would be in such a situation is problematic. And certainly, most legal systems are not designed to do that.

    I am fortunate in that I have not been a victim of some massive injustice. I know just from the minor injustices that I have been the victim of, the odd online scam, for example, it is all too easy to get lost down a rabbit hole of imagined revenge and wishing all kinds of evil outcomes for those who scammed me. But ultimately that is just me poisoning myself using the injustice as a pretext.

    But this is a complex area and we all have to find our own way to deal with these things as best we can.

    I hope you find your way to healing and wish you all the very best

    Andy  

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your thoughful comment. I did not know that Shakespearean quote, it certainly made me think. 

  8. Thank you for the amazing post!  I have never read this book, but I find that the way you are describing it makes it sound like a really good book to read.  I think it can raise mental health awareness, and how many times the courts do not take that into consideration.  I do believe that the prosecution was probably focused on winning the case, but we have to remember that is their job.  We need to also change the way things are done in the court.

    1. Hi Jessie,

      We do indeed need to raise mental health awareness. I understand that the prosecution have a job to do, I just think that it is more than a job when it involves human beings and their lives, it is a responsability. This is a difficult topic, for sure. I hope that the justice system will improve. Many people are clamoring for change.

  9. This book does sound like an interesting tale of true crime. It is unfortunate that mental health care is not regarded with enough seriousness in the USA. Simple interventions with care are helpful ways to help point someone who is struggling towards a better path. Hopefully, the book helps to raise awareness of this very serious issue — it sounds like it has been very effective at opening your eyes! Thanks for the review and recommendation!

    1. Hi Aly,

      Yes, this book and others and also my correspondence with inmates has been opening my eyes wide, and it still is. 

      Thank you for your comment!

  10. I have to say it is a catchy phrase and I am intrigued now, so I will go and read the book. I tried to find some details on google regarding Eric Miller and could only find an article about the murder and nothing about what happened after. I guess once you are convicted and you are not famous information is not that freely available.
    Depression is really an illness that tends to slip through the cracks in the fact that it isn’t noticed until it’s too late. If you have chest pains you will go to the doctor but if you are feeling mentally out of sorts, you will rather keep it yourself and hope for the best. Hopefully this book will make people more aware and the fact that he admitted guilt.
    Thank you for the review and recommendation.

    1. Hi Cornelia,

      Yes, you can find details of the crime and courtpapers online, but there isn’t much else. His book provides a lot of information. At the end of the book Eric includes info about the interrogation, court proceedings, and legal terms and documents which are worth a look.
      Thank you for your comment!

  11. Hey Christine! This book is totally up my alley! I have been so obsessed with true crime, it is crazy. The fact that this book is written by the “killer” himself makes it super interesting. I have always been interested in the mind of a killer and this sounds like it will absolutely give me that insight.
    You speak about depression and I can totally relate. I guess most people can relate too, now that we are living in such strange times (thanks to Covid!!). However, it is no reason to commit crimes. This is why it makes it super important to get the right help sooner than later.
    Thank you for this book review-I will be interested to get my hand on it asap!

    1. Hi Sasha,

      I agree that depression is no reason to commit a crime, but it is unfortunately a fact that most violent offenders suffer from mental health issues or illnesses … Depression is pretty bad and still underestimated. When it reaches a low, and you don’t get the help you need, there will be consequences. It is indeed so very important to get the right help sooner than later.
      Thank you for your comment!

  12. Hello there! The title has definitely caught my attention and reading through your review of this book, it only made it that much more interesting. Sounds like readers can really get into the thought process and mind of these unique individuals. It’s sad to think that those who end up on this type of path all starts from allowing mental illnesses to go untreated for a long time which manifested into something else. Like you said, it must be taken seriously despite what others might say. Thanks for this creating this review.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, mental health must be taken more seriously. Prisons are full with mental health patients who should receive help and not be locked up. I hope that books like Why Miller Turned Killer can bring attention to this. 

  13. Hi, I am pleased to meet you. Well, this seems to be a fascinating book, the way you outlined how Eric Miller’s tone is conversational and sometimes raw, feeling as if he is chatting directly to you. Anyway, depression is real and toxic, I want to agree with you that depression must be taken seriously, and got rid off accordingly. This is interesting, thanks for sharing.

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