Police reports released after subsequent arrest of talkative William Craig Miller depicted a pathetic narcissist whose motive for murder ostensibly was to keep a pair of associates from singing against him in an insurance-fraud scam (they burned down Miller's Scottsdale home in November 2005).
The three adult victims (two men and a woman) all had worked for Miller at one time.
Miller's youngest victims apparently were murdered because they happened to be home at the time.
Miller was convicted earlier this year of arson in that case and already was serving a 16-year prison term before yesterday's conviction.
According to police and prosecutors, Miller had recruited eventual murder victim Steven Duffy to help torch his Scottsdale home as part of the November 2005 insurance-fraud scheme. (An insurance firm paid Miller $440,000).
That a county jury convicted the 34-year-old on all counts was no surprise in a case that was riddled with unconscionable delays (many of them the fault of an earlier Miller attorney named David Powell) and some quirky legal twists and turns.
Miller's latest attorney called no witnesses on his behalf, and Miller himself chose not to attend much of the trial (including the reading of the verdict).
Word of the verdict caused us to recollect about a meeting we attended of the Parents of Murdered Children a few months after the homicides.
We were speaking at the well-tended meeting (this may have been the time we were on a small panel with the Republic's Laurie Roberts) and, believe us, it wasn't a fun few hours.
Afterward, a close family member of the young victims came up to us. She was shaking and weepy, and said she had appreciated our kindly demeanor during our little talk.
We thanked her, but couldn't help adding something to the effect that not being in the habit of marching up to grieving family members and asking them how they "feel" is not a notable attribute--or an attribute at all.
We didn't tell her that our M.O. is to wait an appropriate period of time before contacting them because that's what we do sometimes at a magazine-style weekly.
And, yes, we always do it in a kindly way.
We hope that she's doing okay under the terrible circumstances.
William Miller will be sentenced soon.
He'll either go to death row or return to prison for the rest of his life.