Romantic tie figures in murder case
Jealousy may have led to the fatal stabbing of a Spokane man in Plummer, Idaho, on Sunday, a friend said.
Victim Antowyn D. “Tony” Swiney, 37, was with his girlfriend when her ex, Jody A. Miller, arrived with a group to celebrate Miller’s 41st birthday at Chan’s Dragon Inn in downtown Spokane April 16, said bar owner Namva Chan.
Swiney left the bar to avoid the confrontation and went to his girlfriend’s home in Plummer, Chan said.
Swiney’s girlfriend exchanged words with Miller, but Swiney did not, Chan said.
Now Miller; his wife, Kelly A. Miller, 40; her son, Irael Kennedy, 21; and Stephen Milton, 22, are in the Benewah County Jail, accused of stabbing Swiney to death early April 17 in Plummer.
They pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges Wednesday after deputies transported them from Spokane to St. Maries.
The homicide case is Benewah County’s third in 17 years.
Chan said she struggles to understand why the killing occurred.
She described Swiney as a friendly man who sometimes worked as security guard at the bar.
“He was polite, mild-mannered, soft-spoken, very well-liked and respected,” Chan said. “He had an addiction, but he was fighting it constantly all the time.”
After Swiney and his girlfriend left the bar, Miller stayed for several hours playing pool, Chan said.
Chan said employees called police when Miller started fighting with another customer in the bar’s parking lot after it closed. But Miller was gone when police arrived, she said.
Chan questioned why Spokane police officers didn’t pursue Miller after responding to the fight.
“They didn’t go after him, and they ended up going to Plummer and killing Tony,” Chan said.
But Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said police were called to the property not for a fight, but for a report of a man with a gun. The call was made 30 minutes after the gunman was seen, and no one cooperated when officers arrived about 1:45 a.m., DeRuwe said.
A warrant used to search Kelly Miller’s 2007 Chrysler Sebring said the suspects admitted to receiving text messages from Swiney’s girlfriend on Jody Miller’s phone “before and after the homicide.” The contents of the texts have not been disclosed.
Spokane police arrested Kennedy, Milton and Kelly Miller at Holy Family Hospital, where Kennedy was seeking treatment for a knife wound. The Sebring was located in the hospital parking lot. A “large amount” of blood was found on the outside of the car, according to the warrant.
Inside, detectives found cellphones and blood-soaked clothes and towels.
Jody Miller was arrested during a SWAT team raid at 2400 W. Dean Ave.
His extensive criminal history includes at least 15 felony convictions, including first-degree assault and second-degree robbery.