'Midnight Rider' Director Randall Miller Pleads Guilty In Sarah Jones Case & This Changes Hollywood Film History
Nearly nine months after three Midnight Rider filmmakers were charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing in the death of 27-year-old second camera assistant Sarah Jones, another crucial development in the case is making headlines. After previously pleading not guilty, the film's director Randall Miller has entered a guilty plea in a deal that requires him to serve two years of his 10-year prison sentence also results in the dismissal of the charges levied against Miller's wife Jody Savin, who worked as a producer on the film. As highlighted by Deadline, Miller's prison sentence is historic in the Hollywood film community as he will become the first filmmaker to serve time in prison for a film-related death.
Jones was killed in a tragic on-set train accident when the film was shooting. After Miller's plea, Judge Anthony Harrison addressed Jones' family in court by saying, "There's nothing the court could do, Ms. Johnson or the DA's office could do to really bring you justice in this case. This was clearly a tragic accident that caused the death of your daughter and sister and granddaughter."
While Jones' death and the subsequent criminal trials are all a part of a truly unfortunate, heart-wrenching tragedy, perhaps the outcome of the trial will help bring some sort of closure to her family members, friends, and film industry colleagues, who all took part in creating the tribute site "Slates For Sarah" in her memory.
It's safe to say that the legal ramifications certainly won't alleviate the unimaginable pain that comes with such a huge loss, but those who knew and loved Jones can also take comfort in knowing that Miller's sentencing is yet another way to continue bringing attention to the dangers that accompany working on film sets, as well as developing resolutions that can prevent further tragic accidents like this from occurring in the future.
After the sentencing, Jones' father Richard spoke on the outcome of the case, saying "No one won anything today. It’s a great deal of loss all around. We are, as much as I can use the word, satisfied with what came of the case." Jones' parents also insisted that they are not out for revenge, but stressed that jail time was absolutely necessary in this case.
"I believe it sends a message of, ‘if you do not respect those you’re in charge of, you may end up behind bars," Richard Jones said.