Nightingale told police: ‘I would never do that’

Posted May 24, 2011, at 1:31 p.m.
Last modified May 24, 2011, at 7:18 p.m.
Nathaneal Nightingale in the courtroom during the first day of his trial at the Penobscot Juditial Center in Bangor on May 23, 2011. Nightingale alledgedly shot and killed Michael Miller Sr. and his wife Valerie Miller in Webster Plantation 18 months ago.
Nathaneal Nightingale in the courtroom during the first day of his trial at the Penobscot Juditial Center in Bangor on May 23, 2011. Nightingale alledgedly shot and killed Michael Miller Sr. and his wife Valerie Miller in Webster Plantation 18 months ago.

BANGOR, Maine — The man charged with slaying a Webster Plantation couple on Nov. 28, 2009, denied killing Michael Miller Sr. and Valerie Miller, both 47, in his first interview with detectives less than 24 hours after they were shot and killed in their kitchen.

Nathaneal Nightingale, 32, of Burlington said in a recorded interview with Maine State Police Detective Brian Strout played for the jury Tuesday that he had no reason to kill them.

“I would never do that,” Nightingale said. “I respected them. There would be no reason to kill them. They’ve been very good to me.”

In that same interview, recorded in the early morning hours of Nov. 29, 2009, Nightingale first described the person Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson has called “the mystery woman.” Investigators initially believed she was the last person to see the Millers alive.

Nightingale said a woman he “had never seen before” in her 50s, between 5 feet, 3 inches and 5 feet, 4 inches tall with long, dark graying hair pulled back in a ponytail was with the Millers when he left their double-wide trailer. He also described her as having bangs and wearing large glasses that might have been tinted or been bifocals.

A few days later, Nightingale sat with a state police sketch artist, who created a composite drawing of the woman as he described her facial features. The sketch was released to the news media with a request that anyone who had information about the woman contact detectives investigating the Millers’ deaths.

In addition to detectives, the victims’ elder son, Michael Miller Jr., 29, of Webster Plantation took the stand Tuesday. Miller Jr. and his brother Matthew Miller, 26, now live in the Tucker Ridge Road home where their mother and father died from single gunshot wounds to their heads.

Miller Jr. testified for the prosecution that before his parents were killed, Nightingale had been his best friend for many years. Miller waived his Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination and told the jury his father illegally sold cigarettes and prescription painkillers from the family home. Miller Jr. also said he knew his father frequently loaned money to individuals and took items as collateral for the loans.

The son of the slain couple testified that in November 2009, he knew Nightingale owed his father more than $1,000 but was unsure of the exact amount. Miller Jr. also admitted that he and his brother took narcotics in pill form for which they did not have prescriptions.

The night before his parents died, Miller Jr. said he was with his brother just before Matthew Miller went into their parents’ house to try to sell a DVD player so Matthew Miller could get money to buy pills. Miller Jr. said he did not go into the house.

On cross-examination, Miller Jr. said that after his father refused to purchase the player, his brother used a cell phone to call a mutual friend to ask if that person would sell him a gun he could then resell to their father. That person declined to sell Matthew Miller a gun, his brother testified.

Nightingale allegedly shot Miller Sr. in the back of the head before turning his revolver on Valerie Miller and shooting her in the temple. Benson said in his opening statement Monday that the motive for the killings was money and that Nightingale stole a safe from the house.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor said in his opening statement that another person who owed Miller Sr. money, including his son Matthew Miller, could have pulled the trigger.

Nightingale was arrested on Dec. 12, 2009, on two counts of intentional or knowing murder. He pleaded not guilty in March 2010 after being indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury the previous December.

He has been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail while awaiting trial.

The defendant has one prior conviction for operating under the influence in Rangeley in May 2005 for which he paid a $500 fine.

Nightingale is a 1997 graduate of Penobscot Valley High School in Howland and was a member of the Howlers’ wrestling team that won 72 straight meets. His team was among those that had won five consecutive state titles and two Penobscot Valley Conference crowns and ranked among the top 50 high schools nationally.

The trial is expected to last through Friday.

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