ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The trial of a father and son accused of killing their neighbor during a fight over trash left in an Abilene alleyway is centered around this question. . . was this an act of murder or self defense?

Opening arguments took place Tuesday morning in the trial of Johnnie Dee and Michael Miller, both charged with Murder in connection to the death of Aaron Howard, who was shot and killed in an alley outside his home on the 4300 block of Don Juan Street on September 1, 2018.

Prosecutors began their opening statements by walking the jury through what happened the day of the shooting.

They say family members heard Howard fighting with the Millers regarding a box spring in the alley, so they went outside. 

Johnnie Dee Miller then pulled out a gun, and this is when Howard’s fiancé started filming, as Michael Miller walked out holding a shotgun. Howard was not armed at this time. 

The Millers and Howard go back and forth arguing, then a family member brings Howard a baseball bat. At this moment, prosecutors say Johnnie Dee shot him in the forearm, causing Howard to throw the bat. Johnnie Dee then shot Howard two more times as Michael shot him in the back of the head. 

Prosecutors are adamant that this was not an act of self-defense. 

Defense attorneys started by highlighting the ongoing issues at the home where Howard lived from May 2018 to the date of his death in September. The Millers claim Howard had been threatening them and that police had been contacted multiple times for his yelling and cussing, once even a fight between Howard and his fiancé. 

There are also documented cases of Howard allegedly assaulting his brother in the front yard and chasing the mailman away from his home while acting aggressive. 

On September 1, defense attorneys say Johnnie Dee was going to throw out the trash when he noticed Howard’s vehicle near the alley, so he grabbed his firearm for protection due to the threats in the past. 

Once outside, Johnnie Dee asked Howard to remove a box spring that was sitting on his fence, and that’s when Howard began screaming and yelling. 

At first, Johnnie Dee had the gun behind him, but defense attorneys say he pulled it out and pointed it at the ground when Howard was throwing items and continued to make threats. 

Michael then shows up, also armed, and at some point, defense attorneys say Howard threw a cinderblock at Johnnie Dee, which hit him and caused him to bruise. 

The defense then describes Howard getting the bat from a family member and raising it, and that’s when they say Johnnie Dee shot him in the chest and forearm, but that did not stop him, forcing the Millers to fire again to send Howard to the ground. 

Testimony continued Tuesday, beginning with responding officers. The trial is projected to take up to a couple of weeks to complete.

KTAB and KRBC will have daily updates from court.

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