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Last updated: Tue. Jan. 21, 2014 - 10:53 am EDT

Talented musician's last 6 years tumultuous

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A little more than a year after he was released from prison for robbing pharmacies, Damian J. Miller II was found with multiple gunshot wounds outside a bar north of the city.

Allen County Sheriff's Department officers responded to a shooting at Dupont Bar and Grill, 10336 N. Clinton St., at 3:49 a.m. Saturday.

Witnesses told police a fight had begun inside the bar between two men and then continued outside the bar, where the second man shot Miller. The sheriff's department did not say whether there were witnesses to the shooting.

Officers found Miller, of 12523 Auburn Road, lying on the sidewalk outside the bar. He died at the scene, according to police reports.

After an autopsy Sunday afternoon, the Allen County Coroner's Office declared Miller's death a homicide, the first in the county this year.

Sheriff's department spokesman Adam Griffith said the second man involved in the shooting had been interviewed but had not been arrested. No arrests have been made as of late Tuesday morning, according to a statement issued by the department.

'Too far gone'

As a young adult growing up in Allen County, Miller was a talented musician with his sights on success, his former bandmates said.

A bass and guitar player, singer and songwriter, Miller was always a popular and fun-loving guy, said Philip Potts, a former bandmate.

Potts and Miller attended Carroll High School together and graduated in 2000.

"We were in bands together back then and after high school, we lived together for three or four years," Potts said.

For several years, the two performed together in the Brown Bottle Band and the Legendary Trainhoppers, performing at local bars and Embassy Theatre.

"He was a real popular guy, handsome and well liked. Part of what makes you a popular band is that you're fun to be around and that's what we did," Potts said. "We were a lot of fun to be around."

Matt Kelley, another of Miller's former bandmates, said when the Legendary Trainhoppers broke up several years later, many of the band members fell out of touch.

"The Trainhoppers were a seven-person band, and there aren't too many of those. Turns out, there's a reason for that – it's tough to keep that many people moving in the same direction," Kelley said in an email.

About seven years after high school, Miller and his then-fiancée broke off their engagement and he suffered with depression, Potts said.

Miller turned to prescription drug use and became addicted, he said.

"He started changing, and it all happened really fast," Potts said. "It's the kind of story you hear about addiction all the time.

"He was a really nice, loving guy, … and then by January of 2008, he had sort of disappeared and turned into a different person."

In January 2008, Miller and his brother, Samuel J. Miller, were arrested in Johnson County, south of Indianapolis, on federal robbery charges, according to court documents.

The two were arrested after the robbery of a Walgreens in the Indianapolis area where they stole the prescription painkiller OxyContin, the documents said.

A federal grand jury indicted both men on three counts each of using violence and intimidation to take controlled substances from those registered with the federal government while using a dangerous weapon.

The men were sentenced to a state prison for that robbery, and federal prosecutors then sought their appearance in U.S. District Court on federal indictments, according to court documents.

In May 2011, both men pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of robbery involving a controlled substance.

In March 2012, the brothers were sentenced to serve two 40-month sentences in prison after they admitted to stealing the OxyContin by violence or intimidation from several Fort Wayne-area Walgreens stores.

The sentences were to be served back to back, then required to serve two years on supervised release. They were also sentenced to pay more than $6,800 in restitution to Walgreens, according to court documents.

Damian Miller was released Jan. 15, 2013, after a motion to modify his sentence was granted because the Federal Bureau of Prisons refused to give him credit toward his sentence for the time he served in the Allen County Jail, according to court documents.

Samuel Miller was also released in 2013.

When Kelley learned that Miller had been arrested, he said he was "gravely concerned and saddened" by the news.

"It's pretty easy to look at just the last six years of Damian's life and make some pretty harsh judgments," Kelley said. "And it's true, he made some terrible, terrible mistakes.

"But those six years aren't the sum of the man that so many of us knew – a guy that could light up a room, a guy that would roll up his sleeves for hard work, a guy that looked like 'Dead Flowers' sounded, a guy that played like dusty old vinyl records smell, a guy that could feel like your little brother."

Potts said Miller's life could have been much different from the stories spelled out in court documents and police reports.

"If you talk to all the good people that he used to be one of, you hear a similar sort of tale. He was really close, and we all loved him like a brother, but you couldn't talk to him because he just wouldn't listen," Potts said. "We tried to help him, tried to do this and that, but he was just too far gone."

jcrothers@jg.net


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