'Midnight Rider' Director Pleads Guilty To Involuntary Manslaughter In Sarah Jones' Death
On the eve of his trial, the director of Midnight Rider Randall Miller has plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones.Jones was killed on the job last year while filming a scene on a train trestle for the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider. Miller, his wife producer Jody Savin and executive producer Jay Sedrish initially pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges in Jones' death, but a last-minute deal was worked out just before the case was set to go to trial in Georgia's Wayne County.
Miller was sentenced to 10 years but he will only serve two years as a part of the plea agreement since this is his first offense, according to Variety. He has to perform 360 hours of community service, pay a $25,000 and not direct during his probation period. All charges against his wife Savin were waived. Sedrish was sentenced to 10 years of probation, a $10,000 fine and is also barred from directing or doing any job in film that involves the safety of employees.
Judge Anthony Harrison said he hopes the sentence sends a message: "Hopefully this will bring some meaning to this tragedy."
Jones was killed while filming on live train trestle. The railroad company said it had denied filmmakers permission to film there, but it wasn't clear who knew about the denial or allowed crew to film on a trestle. Jones and the crew constructed a set on the trestle, but they didn't have time to get out of the way when they heard a train's whistle. Jones was killed when a piece of debris knocked her into the path of the oncoming train.
Miller's plea is a rare moment in film history: rarely are filmmakers convicted of any crime when a worker loses their life on set. Variety notes that when a helicopter crashed on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1982, John Landis and his crew was acquitted of manslaughter charges.
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