The former Mannford police officer who was convicted of murdering his police chief in a drunken fight in a Pensacola Beach, Florida, hotel room has been sentenced to life in prison, the Pensacola News Journal reported Thursday.
Michael Patrick Nealey, 50, was sentenced in Escambia County District Court on Thursday for the November 2019 murder of Mannford Police Chief Lucky Miller. A jury March 30 found Nealey guilty of second-degree murder.
The two were in Pensacola Beach for a law enforcement conference on death investigations.
A spokeswoman for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said alcohol was believed to be involved in the homicide, the World reported after the death.
At the time of his death, Miller’s blood alcohol level was 0.334 — more than four times Florida’s legal limit to drive, the Pensacola News Journal reported. Later that night, Nealey’s blood alcohol level was shown to have been 0.294.
Lisa Nealey, Michael Nealey’s wife, asked the judge for leniency during the sentencing hearing and said her husband would “never intentionally hurt someone,” the Pensacola News Journal reported.
“I’ve lived with him for 21 years; I know this,” she said, before adding, “Please have leniency and mercy upon us.”
Four of Miller’s relatives — both of his parents, his widow and his sister — spoke at Thursday’s hearing, according to the Pensacola newspaper.
“For the last 18 months, our lives have been a daily battle to keep our heads above water and to not drown in a sea of despair and grieve,” Jo Ann Miller, Lucky Miller’s mother, said.
“For me, the loss has been so great that I can’t really speak of it in detail today for fear that I could never get through this day, but I can say that, for me, the loss has been deep. It’s been dark. It’s been relentless.”
Lucky Miller’s sister, Katy Landrum, said part of her is dead after losing her brother and that she feels an odd sense of loneliness. She said she was one grade apart from Lucky Miller in school and that they shared many of the same friends and activities.
“One of the things I struggle with the most is trying to understand how the person who was his partner and friend and knows all of us — ultimately the person who should have been there to protect Lucky — was the one who took his life, even when Lucky was pleading with him to stop,” Landrum said.
“I cannot fathom how a person, especially one who was sworn to serve and protect others, could take someone else’s life with his bare hands.”