Alleged Augusta County shooter pleads not guilty in court

By  | 

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- In December of 2016, 50-year-old Christopher Jon Miller was found shot to death at the home of his fiancé in Augusta County.

The Augusta County Sheriff's Office said that Christopher Luke Simmons surprised Miller in the home and shot him in the living room, before fleeing the scene and ultimately being taken into custody after a prolonged standoff with deputies in a field along Berry Farm Road.

Simmons was charged First Degree Murder, as well as Use of a Firearm in Commission of a felony.

He was expected to plead guilty in court on Monday, April 24, but Augusta County Commonwealth Attorney Tim Martin said Simmons changed his mind at the last minute and pleaded not guilty.

The choice to plead not guilty caught most by surprise, according to Martin.

"It was a tremendous surprise to me," said Martin. "We had a bunch of family members of the victim in there and we were ready for him to plead guilty, and we were hoping for some closure for the victim's family at that point."

Martin said Simmons will have a two-day trial in October. No date has been set yet.

Simmons has a controversial prior criminal history which led a psychiatrist to remark in 2011, "It is only a matter of time before the subject sets another fire and possibly kills someone." You can learn more about that here.