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'Midnight Rider' director Randall Miller pleads guilty to manslaughter in camera assistant's death

"Midnight Rider" director Randall Miller arrives at the screening of XLrator Media's "CBGB" at the Arclight Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 1, 2013. Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Winter

Randall Miller pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing and involunatry manslaughter in connection with the death of Sarah Jones, a camera assistant who last year was struck by a train during the production of the film "Midnight Rider."

Miller was sentenced in a Georgia courtroom to two years in prison and 360 hours of community service; he also must pay a $20,000 fine. Miller is facing 8 or even 10 years of probation, according to conflicting reports from CBS News and During his probation, Miller may not serve on any film production as a director, assistant director or supervisor in charge of safety. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs to be taken to the Wayne County jail.

Jones, 27, was a fledgling camera assistant on "Midnight Rider" when the crew began its first day of production Feb. 20, 2014. The shoot took place on a railroad bridge across the Altahama River in Wayne Country, Ga, and was to be a dream sequence that involved a metal-framed bed lying across the tracks. When a freight train barrelled into the crew at 55 m.p.h., Jones was struck by metal fragments from the bed and by the train itself. Miller was the one who informed Jones' parents that she was dead.

Miller's guilty plea all but puts an end to his career as a director. After production halted on "Midnight Rider," a bio-pic about the Southern rocker Gregg Allman -- played by William Hurt -- Miller had begun quietly working on another music-themed film, "Slick Rock Trail," about a washed-up rocker who takes a young band under his wing. Miller's previous films include the Kid 'n Play comedy "Class Act," a comedy-drama about the wine industry, "Bottle Shock." His fact-based drama "CBGB," about the famed New York City punk club, was released in 2013.

As part of Miller's plea agreement, charges were dismissed against his wife and business partner, Jody Savin. Unit production manager Jay Sedrish also pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing but will avoid jail time and instead serve 10 years of probation from his home in California.

Jones' father, Richard Jones, spoke to reporters after the courtroom hearing ended, according to “No one won anything today,” he said. “It’s just a great deal of loss for everyone involved.”


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