Wset Palm man rearrested in 1999 Palm Beach Mall murder case

Jul 21, 2007 | Posted by: South Florida Sun-Sentinel | Full story: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Authorities on Friday arrested a West Palm Beach man who has remained a suspect in the slaying of a Chick-Fil-A manager for eight years. Although prosecutors dropped murder charges against Jesse Lee Miller Jr. in 2001, citing inconclusive DNA evidence, new information prompted a grand jury to issue an indictment in the May 1999 killing. 'I'm definitely happy he's in jail and that we're going to be able to bring him to trial this time,' Nancy Widell, mother of slaying victim Nicholas Megrath, told WPTV-Ch. 5. The sealed indictment charged Miller with first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm, burglary with assault or battery while armed with a firearm and armed kidnapping. Police found Megrath, 18, on May 1, 1999, sitting in a chair with duct tape around his hands, arms, feet, upper body and mouth at the restaurant in the Palm Beach Mall. He was shot in the head. Over the years, investigators have charged three men with Megrath's death, including Miller. Only one man, Otto Wright, was convicted. The third man, a Chick-Fil-A employee held in jail for a year, was released after a witness recanted statements that the employee admitted taking part in the robbery. A judge sentenced Wright to life in prison in 2003. Detectives interviewed Miller early in the 1999 investigation. Megrath's co-workers told police that Miller had a grudge against Megrath because he reported Miller for selling food after hours. Miller's hours were reduced and he was later fired. A restaurant employee told police that on the day of the killing, Miller walked by the front counter, pointed at Megrath and said, 'I'm going to get you.' Miller told police he was with his girlfriend when Megrath was killed. Police originally arrested Miller in September 2000 after a Sheriff's Office crime lab report found DNA that could have been his on a ski mask outside the restaurant. But later tests could not prove the DNA was Miller's. In November 2001, prosecutors dropped the charges against him because they lacked enough evidence for a conviction. On Friday, members of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Tactical Unit and the U.S. Marshal's Service went to arrest Miller about 3 p.m. at his parents' home in the 800 block of Handy Avenue in West Palm Beach. Miller tried to run, and a Sheriff's Office sergeant tackled him, said sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller. 'We've been looking for him since April,' Paul Miller said. Authorities transferred Jesse Miller to West Palm Beach police custody, the agency investigating the homicide. 'He just arrived,' said West Palm Beach police spokesman Ted White. 'One of our detectives will interview him.' White was not aware of what new evidence or information led to the new indictment. According to the State Attorney's Office, one of its investigators developed new information with the help of the Forensic Document Examination Division of the Forensic Laboratory for the U.S. Postal Service. A spokesman declined to elaborate. In the past year, state records show Miller has been arrested on charges of violating probation and failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor count. The outcomes of those two cases were not immediately available. Staff Researcher William Lucey contributed to this report. Read more

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For Former Juror

West Palm Beach, FL

#106 May 19, 2010
Marlon Johnson and Terrance Richardson both took part in this crime. This is why Terrance didn't want to show up for the last trial becuase he couldn't even keep his story straight in the other trial. Terrance switched shifts with Nick on purpose, he was also jealous of Nick because Nick got the position that he yearned for and he felt that Nick thought he was better than him. If anyone paid close attention to the trial when he testified he kept throwing in his statements that he was suppose to get the position but Nick got it. To me that seems like a little jealousy and this is why he couldn't really look at Nick's family because of the guilt that was in him. As far as Marlon goes, he definitely had something to do with it. Why else would he push the girl out the restaurant in a hurry and tell her to go home he got it?
Former Juror

Richland, MI

#107 May 20, 2010
Being new to the trial at the time, I did not pick up on the fact that Terrnace would have had any ulterior motives in changing shifts with Nick. I thought he was in Pahokee or someplace at an event with a girlfriend. Did the change take place at the last minute? I don't remember. If this was planned some time in advance, it makes premeditation a sure thing.
It seems like maybe Marlon was the one who let people in. Although I wondered if that was the case, why did he not get the heck out of the area. He was waiting outside. I wondered if he thought this was to be a robbery, not a murder and was waiting for Nick to see what his story about the robbery would be....then he would know if anyone was recognized and what Nick knew. I think I read that he was arrested and let go at one point. Is that correct?
Also, the two girls who testified seemed scared even 10 years later. I thought they had been threatened. One alluded to that fact, although she did not name names.
For Former Juror

West Palm Beach, FL

#108 Jun 8, 2010
Former Juror wrote:
Being new to the trial at the time, I did not pick up on the fact that Terrnace would have had any ulterior motives in changing shifts with Nick. I thought he was in Pahokee or someplace at an event with a girlfriend. Did the change take place at the last minute? I don't remember. If this was planned some time in advance, it makes premeditation a sure thing.
It seems like maybe Marlon was the one who let people in. Although I wondered if that was the case, why did he not get the heck out of the area. He was waiting outside. I wondered if he thought this was to be a robbery, not a murder and was waiting for Nick to see what his story about the robbery would be....then he would know if anyone was recognized and what Nick knew. I think I read that he was arrested and let go at one point. Is that correct?
Also, the two girls who testified seemed scared even 10 years later. I thought they had been threatened. One alluded to that fact, although she did not name names.
Terrance stated that he went to the Brown Sugar Festival by his self in Clewiston. He basically used his self as his own alibi. Now, I don't know if you ever went to the Brown Sugar Fesitival, that is a place that no one goes by themself. As far as Marlon goes, he did have a witness who were to testify against him but that particular witness recanted their statement because they became frightened. The only reason why he didn't really leave the area during the time of the murder because that would've definitely made him very suspicious. He knew that he and Nick was to leave together and that no one was suppose to be left in the store alone. As the witness stated, Marlon basically forced her to leave ahead of time than she was scheduled to leave.
For Former Juror

West Palm Beach, FL

#109 Jun 8, 2010
Former Juror wrote:
Can anyone enlighten me as to why Marlon Johnson was not charged? During Mr. Miller's trial, he was not mentioned much, except in terms of his talking to the police and saying he was waiting for Nick to come out and Nick was "taking too long". I got the impression he was more involved than they told us, and he was absent from the witness list, which seemed strange. You would think one of the last ones to leave work and talk to Nick would be an important witness, No? Others who were there were called. I wondered what part he may have played in all this. I think that he may have been the one who let them in the back door. And that he knew something was going to happen, but maybe not that it would be murder. Any thoughts out there?
I agree with you 100%. Marlon did have something to do with this. Everything you've said make perfect sense to me. Why wasn't he a witness since he was supposingly waiting for Nick to come out? That's because he was a suspect too at one point. He's just gotten away with taking part in a murder.
Former juror

Hampton, VA

#110 Jun 9, 2010
I thought that the Brown Sugar festival was a formal event and was pretty much a "couples" sort of dance...is that correct? And I think Terrance said he had a date during the trial. That is why I assumed he would have known about any need for a change in the schedule a while back, not at the last minute. Makes me think that you are correct regarding him having something to do with the whole thing.
I just don't get why Marlon was not called as a witness during the trial. He was talked about, but we never heard from him directly. I mean, they brought Otto Wright in from his jail cell! Is it possible that they are still watching him or trying to find evidence to prosecute him? And both of the young ladies who worked there seemed scared, 10 years later. Especially the one who said she was with Nick when Jesse came through the mall earlier in the day..was her name Shea?
Thanks for the responses. So you think that Marlon's "job" was to get rid of other staff and leave the door open? I wonder if he knew the goal was not just robbery, but murder. If so, why on earth would he wait around outside?
Former Juror

United States

#111 Jul 27, 2010
Hope Jesse has "enjoyed" his first full year in jail. May it be the first of many. And may your accomplices join you soon. Blessings to Nick's friends and family.
Bluemoose

Lake Worth, FL

#112 Jul 28, 2010
Former Juror wrote:
Hope Jesse has "enjoyed" his first full year in jail. May it be the first of many. And may your accomplices join you soon. Blessings to Nick's friends and family.
Thank you for your thoughts and I agree with you about Jesse and the others that were involved.
Friend of Dad

Panama City, FL

#113 Jan 30, 2013
Young punks with guns and stupid ideas. They have no idea of the pain they put this young mans family through. Some scumbags just dont deserve to live and I hope these losers die a slow, painful death in prison.
the streets are talkin

Greer, SC

#114 Jun 16, 2014
otto only crime is being there in the first place. He may havent pull the trigger but gulit by assoication is a muthaf##ker dat young man my hearts an prayers goes out to the family but otto wright doesnt deserve life 10 to 15 yrs yes but life set my dawg free
the streets are talkin

Greer, SC

#115 Jun 16, 2014
stay strong otto keep appealin
Search your heart

United States

#116 Jun 27, 2014
Afraid wrote:
All i'm going to say is that they had the right person the first time but let him go and now he's left stat. I'm just going to leave this matter in the Lords hand and pray that he look out for the innocence since I can't come forth.
please let some body know....anonymously if you have too! My brother is innocent. This is his sister. I will never give up to find the truth. Ever. He's been in prison for 15 years for something he did not do. Please. If you know something.......
Search your heart

United States

#117 Jun 27, 2014
Otto was never there. He helped our mother move into their new appt. then he was on the phone with me for awhile before hanging out a few spots. down from our mother, playing video games with his buddy. They both signed the lease and the guard at the gate even saw my brother unloading the uhaul. That was proven and heard by the jury! So how is it.....my brother who was forced in to a false confession by a Det that my mom was dating at the time....didnt know Jesse Miller, Terrence Watson, Marlon Johnson or who else ever was involved....he gets three life sentences without parole......and the guy, Jesse Miller who was caught stealing money..got fired...witness saw him....his DNA matched the ski mask and his hand writing matched.....HE gets a new trial!!!!!!!???My brother Otto Wright has been in prison for 15 years now from a false confession....nothing else. He's in there for losing cause he was scared and told he would get the death penalty if he didn't! The truth needs to come out...the real killers are still out there!
Spectator and Analyst

Winter Garden, FL

#118 Sunday Aug 17
After reading reports, transcripts and hearing sides from multiple people in Megrath's case it is my firm belief that Otto Wright is innocent and has been wrongfully convicted of homicide. I hope after those helping Otto prove his innocence and hopefully overturn the decision by the 15th circuit judge by appealing, there can be light shed on the corruption and/or incompetence of the Palm Beach County legal system entirely.

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