In a historic first, a judge in Wayne County, Georgia has sentenced Midnight Rider director Randall Miller to two years in prison and 10 years’ probation for the on-set death of second camera assistant Sarah Jones last year. Miller initially entered a plea of not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, but changed his plea to guilty shortly before the trial was to begin.
As part of his sentence, Miller also agreed to pay a $20,000 fine, serve 360 hours of community service, and refrain from working as a director, assistant director, or supervisor in charge of safety on any film production for the next 10 years, essentially ending his career. Miller will be the first movie director to serve jail time for an on-set death; the last time a case like this went to trial, according to Deadline, was the famous Twilight Zone: The Movie trial in 1986-1987, where director John Landis and four others were acquitted of manslaughter charges related to the death of actor Vic Morrow and two children on set.
Charges against Miller’s wife, producer Jody Savin, were dropped as a result of Miller’s guilty plea. The other co-defendant, executive producer Jay Sedrish, also changed his plea to guilty and reached a plea agreement wherein he will serve 10 years’ probation and pay a $10,000 fine; Sedrish has also agreed not to work as a director, assistant director, or in any supervisory production capacity during his probation. First assistant director Hillary Schwartz, who successfully petitioned to have her trial date severed from that of her co-defendants, is expected to enter a plea as early as tomorrow.
After the verdict was read, Jones’ family released a statement, calling for greater awareness of and attention to safety on film sets and saying, “I certainly hesitate to use the word ‘happy.’ There’s no happiness here at all. We are content with the result.”