Doctor denies charges


An attorney for a Craig doctor accused of strangling his wife refuted the circumstances surrounding the case as written in a police affidavit.

The affidavit is public record.

Dr. Joel Miller is being charged with two felony counts of domestic violence after an alleged dispute with his wife, Peggy. But Miller's attorney, Gerald Young, said the warrantless arrest affidavit included in the case file only tells one side of the story.

"Dr. Miller adamantly denies the charges which have been filed against him in this case," Young wrote in a statement. "That information represents nothing more than one side of the story made by one person involved in a two-person incident."

Police can perform a warrantless arrest if they think a crime has been committed at the scene of an incident. Police must have an arrest warrant signed by a judge to carry out other types of arrests.

In both cases, a judge needs to determine whether there is probable cause to arrest or hold a suspect. That determination is based on information that police derive from conversations they've had with parties involved in an incident.

Craig police officers Suzanne Burns, Sgt. Marvin Cameron and Carolyn Burns responded to the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident at the Millers' house Jan. 16, according to the court document.

In the report, Peggy told police that Joel strangled her after she broke a wine glass and his eyeglasses when Joel started drinking. Joel said that he pushed Peggy away from him by the neck and she fell on the floor after she started arguing with him, according to court documents. Joel showed Sgt. Cameron a cut on his left foot and left side from the broken glass. The report states that Peggy had red marks on both sides and the front of her neck.

Police told Peggy that she may later be charged in the incident, but the District Attorney's Office has not filed charges against her.

Police arrested Miller at the scene with a misdemeanor charge of assault in the third degree. Upon reviewing the evidence in the case, District Attorney Bonnie Roesink later changed the case to include two felony charges of second-degree domestic violence and menacing with a real or simulated weapon.

According to Colorado law, an officer first has to determine who is the primary aggressor in domestic violence cases, and whether one or more people in the incident have committed crimes. To make an arrest, an officer has to consider any prior complaints, the relative severity of injuries on each person, the likelihood of future injury to each person and the possibility that one of the persons acted in self-defense.

Craig Police Capt. Jerry DeLong said that rarely are both parties arrested in domestic violence cases.

Young defended his client saying that Miller "specifically denies engaging in any abusive or assaultive behavior."

"Only after being repeatedly taunted, harassed, assaulted on three occasions and ultimately being cut in his side by an aggressor did he take minimal steps necessary to defend himself from further injury," Young said.

Young said that much of Miller's testimony was left out of the court document.

Two separate videotaped interviews, one of Peggy and one of Joel, were taken at the scene and booked as evidence, according to court documents.

Young said that he hoped the truth would come out during the court proceedings.

"We do not anticipate any interference with Dr. Miller's medical license or interruption of his medical practice in Craig," Young said. "He will continue to provide medical treatment to existing and new patients and is hopeful that the community will judge him on his reputation as a caring and skillful physician rather than information contained in a newspaper article."

Public Relations Director Pam Thompson of The Memorial Hospital has said that the hospital stands behind Miller. Miller has privileges at the hospital, which means he can practice on his patients if they are admitted.

"We stand behind that he is a good doctor and has no prior convictions," Thompson said.

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