NEW PORT RICHEY — Brittany Miles' attorney says she was high on prescription pills during a 2011 rampage that ended with a Pasco County deputy thrown onto U.S. 19 and a Hernando motorcyclist dead.
This was her "rock bottom," Aaron Delgado said in opening statements in Miles' trial Monday.
Miles, 22, is facing charges of felony attempted murder, escape, fleeing law enforcement and DUI. If convicted, she faces possible life in prison.
"Brittany Miles admits she was driving. She admits she fled. She admits all of that. She is guilty of all those things," Delgado told the jurors. "We don't challenge it. We don't contest it.
"But she is not guilty of attempted murder."
On May 10, 2011, at least three witnesses called 911 to report that Miles, a dancer at a strip club called the Brass Flamingo and mother of a toddler, was driving erratically.
Pasco Deputy Ashley Grady pulled Miles over on U.S. 19 in Hudson on suspicion of driving under the influence. Miles told deputies she'd had seven drinks; a drug test later said she had oxycodone and Xanax in her system.
Miles was arrested and placed in the back of a patrol car. Authorities say Miles got one hand free from her handcuffs and reached through the cruiser's window — which had been rolled down for deputies to speak with Miles — to open the door. Miles then ran to her truck and peeled out back onto U.S. 19, authorities said.
Grady, now 24, leapt onto the running board, clung to the truck and tried to pull the keys out of the ignition. Assistant State Attorney Vin Petty said Miles punched the gas to 70 mph and tried to shove Grady out.
Grady "was locked in a life or death struggle," Petty said to the jury. "At that speed, you can't simply jump off."
He said Miles eventually won, flinging Grady onto the southbound lanes of U.S. 19. Grady was cut, bruised and had a broken leg, and was later suspended for five days without pay for violating agency regulation by leaving the cruiser window down.
Delgado said Miles did not intentionally do this.
"Was there a struggle inside that vehicle?" Delgado said to jurors. "You will hear conflicting evidence on that."
Headed north at 100 mph with cruisers on her tail, Miles struck and killed motorcyclist Henry McCain, 67, at U.S. 19 and County Line Road, authorities said.
That crash happened in Hernando County, where Miles will have a separate trial in January on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated fleeing and eluding. If convicted of murder, the sentence is life in prison.
Earlier this year, Miles pleaded no contest to the Pasco charges and threw herself at the mercy of the court. But she withdrew her plea in May after learning the judge has no discretion in her sentencing: On charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, the law says the sentence must be life in prison, without parole.
As part of the presentencing investigation for that plea, Miles made this statement, according to court records: "I just want Deputy Grady to know how sorry I am that she was injured that day. She was only trying to do her job. I did not mean for anyone to get hurt, I wasn't in my right state of mind and had I been, none of this would have happened. I really can't express how sorry I am for everything that occurred that day and I hope that somehow the ones injured can find it in their heart to forgive me. I know that I need help and am willing to take whatever help I can get."
Relatives say Miles became addicted to painkillers after a car accident two years earlier, where, they said, she was hit by a drunken driver. More than a dozen loved ones wrote letters to the court on Miles' behalf, begging for leniency. They spoke of how kind and loving Miles was before her descent into addiction.
"This could have been anyone's child," Miles' mother, Debra Miles, a Hernando sheriff's deputy, wrote in a letter to the court.
The trial is expected to end Wednesday or Thursday.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.