by CHRIS ROGERS
Steven Edward Miller, 33, of Winona, is guilty of murdering a Winona man and setting fire to the duplex where he lived, Winona County District Court Judge Nancy Buytendorp ruled today. In a deal with prosecutors, Miller pled guilty to second-degree, unintentional murder and first-degree arson for killing a 55-year-old Winona man on March 22, 2019, and later setting fire to his apartment, where Miller was staying as a guest.
The sentence isn’t final yet, but Miller agreed to a deal that would give him 24 years in prison for the murder and arson charges, as well as a separate burglary charge also from March 2019. Miller waived his right to a jury trial and also agreed to a somewhat harsher sentence. In exchange, Winona County Attorney Karin Sonneman and Assistant County Attorney Kevin O’Laughlin, who prosecuted the case, dropped a second-degree intentional murder charge.
In testimony today, Miller said he was high on methamphetamine and psilocybin mushrooms at the time of murder. After the victim yelled at Miller for using drugs in the victim’s home, Miller struck the victim with a hammer, killing him, Miller said, acknowledging that the victim never threatened him and that he was never afraid of the victim. Miller never tried to aid the victim and later doused the body and the room with fuel and set fire to it, Miller admitted, acknowledging that he knew the fire would likely spread to an adjacent apartment, as well.
Miller has been held in jail since being arrested and charged last summer and will remain in custody until his sentencing.