GEORGIA UPHOLDS LIFE SENTENCE IN SCHOOL KILLING
South Mississsippi Sun Herald
October 28, 2002
ATLANTA - Georgia's Supreme Court on Monday upheld the
murder conviction and life sentence imposed on a school
bully who killed a 13-year-old classmate with a blow to the
back of the head in 1998.
In a unanimous ruling, the state's highest court rejected
defense arguments that the jury that convicted Jonathan
Miller in 1999 may have been prejudiced by exposure to news
coverage of the Columbine High School massacre just weeks
before Miller's trial.
Fourteen students and one teacher died at the school in
Littleton, Colorado, after two students went on a shooting
In a written opinion, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah
Sears said a lower court did not violate Miller's right to
a fair trial when it denied defense lawyers' request for a
change of venue.
"We have reviewed the evidence of record concerning the
actual pretrial publicity in this matter and it was not
inherently prejudicial," Sears said.
Miller, now 19, was charged as a juvenile with aggravated
battery and assault after punching Josh Belluardo after the
two boys got off their school bus on Nov. 2, 1998, in a
suburb north of Atlanta.
Belluardo died two days later from a severed artery in his
brain, prompting prosecutors in Cherokee County to indict
the then-15-year-old Miller for felony murder and try him
in adult court. Miller allegedly had a history of harassing
and bullying Belluardo.
The case attracted national attention and led the Georgia
Legislature to pass an anti-bullying law, which allows a
school to suspend students after two incidents of bullying.
A student is transferred out of the school after a third
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