By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Prosecutors offered no motive and last month’s four day trial revealed only the rejected self defense claim but today a courtroom finally heard a lengthy recitation from Weston G. Miller’s lawyer that shed light on last year’s fatal shooting of his houseguest in Centralia.
Miller is delusional.
The 30-year-old former welder could have but chose not to pursue an insanity defense, according to Centralia attorney J.P. Enbody.
Weston G. Miller
Miller was diagnosed with paranoid delusional disorder by a psychiatrist who said the best course for him would be long term treatment at Western State Hospital, Enbody said.
“He was sure people were trying to poison him, including Ms. DeSalvo and Mr. Carson,” Enbody said.
Enbody read aloud passages from doctor’s reports that described how Miller placed security cameras around his B Street house, believed his neighbors were stealing from him, thought someone had hacked into his bank accounts and wouldn’t eat food unless it was pre-packaged because someone was trying to poison him.
His client didn’t know who to trust and was frightened of David Carson, Enbody said.
“He was preoccupied with people being after him, being in danger,” he said.
Miller was in Lewis County Superior Court today to be sentenced for first-degree murder. He was convicted by a jury last month in the death of 43-year-old David Wayne Carson.
Carson and his girlfriend Sara DeSalvo, who were on again off again homeless, were staying at the B Street home for a short time in exchange for DeSalvo doing some heavy cleaning.
Miller fired a 9 mm pistol at close range into Carson’s chest after asking him to step out of a bedroom.
David Wayne Carson
Carson, who once worked with expensive show dogs in southern California and most recently as a millwright, was dead at the scene when police arrived on the afternoon of March 13, 2012.
Judge Richard Brosey gave Miller 30 years in prison.
He called it the most senseless and without explanation of homicides he’s seen in all his years.
Brosey said he didn’t need to decide if Miller was lying or just had a very warped perception of what occurred.
“Mr. Carson had no knife, he wasn’t advancing on you,” Brosey said. “It was an impossible scenario to have played out.”
Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher had told the judge the standard sentencing range given the conviction was from just shy of 26 years to almost 33 years. He asked for the top end.
“Quite frankly the state thinks that for taking a life, that is low, but we are bound by it,” Meagher said.
Meagher pointed out that Miller had ignored a previous court order prohibiting him from possessing firearms yet had four of them, using one to kill Carson. Furthermore, Meagher said, Miller was still refusing to take responsibility for what he did.
Meagher read a passage from a psychiatrist’s report that offered further insight.
It appears likely Miller may have downplayed his reported methamphetamine use; he said he was awake three days before the event, the deputy prosecutor said.
Miller’s disorder is consistent with delusional meth psychosis, he read.
According to Enbody, it’s not clear how much of a role methamphetamine played.
The documentation of his client’s deterioration goes back to October 2011.
“Even then, he thought people were trying to kill him,” Enbody told the court. “I think that’s the start of what everyone talked about; the disorder he slipped into for a variety of reasons.”
Miller had two stays at the mental health unit at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, and tested negative for methamphetamine while he was there, Enbody said.
The diagnosis of paranoid delusional disorder he spoke of came after months of being locked up awaiting his trial, he said. Nobody drug tested him when he was arrested, Enbody said.
Today in the Chehalis courtroom, Miller chose to give a statement on his own behalf.
He said he only knew Carson three days but considered him a friend.
“I tell you the truth, I never wanted to hurt David, I had no motive,” Miller read from a piece of paper.
He spoke of himself as someone who’d purchased a home at age 21 to make a life for his family, was an outstanding citizen and worked until an on-the-job accident.
He told how the year 2011 saw his younger brother’s death and then he got behind in his accounting classes, got behind in his bills, and began showing signs of obsessive compulsive disorder and started to get paranoid.
During the trial, jurors heard descriptions of the shooting from the only two individuals – besides Carson – who were there.
DeSalvo and Miller agreed Miller knocked on the door of the bedroom. Miller said his two house guests had been fighting. DeSalvo said they were not.
When Miller spoke today, he maintained that Carson was “choking out” DeSalvo in the bedroom, that Carson let go of her and when he brought a knife up to the level of Miller’s throat, Miller fired at him.
He said he told DeSalvo to call 911.
“I know I shouldn’t have left, but I was in shock,” he said. “I just wanted to get out of the house and get somewhere safe.
Miller said he needed a hug from his father.
“Again, I want to say I’m sorry,” he read. “I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
DeSalvo and family members offered their thoughts in court today as well.
The 46-year-old woman called Miller a liar who murdered the love of her life. She advanced the theory he was a serial killer, who’d let a secret slip to her boyfriend.
“You told someone about something you didn’t want him to know,” DeSalvo said, facing Miller and raising her voice. “And that’s why you killed him.”
“Come clean,” she nearly shouted. “Where’s Kayla Croft-Payne and the other girls you killed?”
Enbody read a statement from his client’s younger sister, who was in the courtroom.
Crystal Miller said she looked up to her brother as a protector and as a proud father with a good heart, but she didn’t understand why he went the direction he did.
“Weston has shocked many people, including his friends and family,” Enbody read.
Carson’s grown daughter sat on a bench on the opposite side of the courtroom.
A statement from Caitlin Carson was read aloud for her.
“I hope every day you are reminded we lost our father on March 13, 2012,” her statement said. “But your daughter lost her father too.”
Carson’s brother Daniel Carson spoke softly when it was his turn.
Miller took his brother, his childhood friend, he said.
“Birds of a feather flock together,” he said. “That’s why my brother was at your house. He struggled with addiction.”
The conviction and sentencing were a small consolation, and it mattered not if he could ever understand why the murder took place, he said.
Miller reduced a man, a brother, a father, an uncle to a pile of ashes in a plastic bag, he said.
He told Miller he ought to have used his fists instead of a gun.
“I hope the court sends a message to the rest of meth users,” he said. “If you pick up a weapon and take somebody’s life, there’s going to be severe consequences.”
For background, read:
• “Centralia murder trial: Self defense or premeditated?” from Thursday May 9, 2013 at 9:10 a.m., here
• “Centralia murder trial: In the defendant’s own words” from Friday May 10, 2013 at 10:13 a.m., here
• “Centralia murder trial: Miller found guilty in B Street shooting death” from Friday May 10, 2013 at 5:51 p.m., here