OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP (WOOD) — A woman who claims an ex-boyfriend was beating her initially took responsibility for a homicide earlier this month in Oshtemo Township.
Phillip Miller, 23, was killed in the area of Redcoat Lane off of W KL Avenue in the early morning hours of April 8.
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office originally told News 8 Miller was found by deputies at the Colonial Manor Manufactured Home Community suffering from a gunshot wound.
Police reports obtained by News 8 through the Freedom of Information Act provide some clarity to what led to a teenager being charged in the murder.
The victim’s ex-girlfriend initially told police they were walking through Concord Place apartments together when a car pulled up and shot Miller. She called her dad for help and they were trying to take Miller to the hospital in their vehicle.
The ex-girlfriend called 911 en route to the hospital and they told her to pull over and start CPR. The woman’s dad stopped the car on Drake Road just north of Stadium Drive, where deputies and rescue crews from Oshtemo Township fire found them.
Kalamazoo County deputies couldn’t find a crime scene at the apartment complex but found what appeared to be blood stains on the sidewalk in front of the woman’s mobile home in Colonial Manor.
When confronted with new information, the victim’s ex-girlfriend told police she killed Miller after he showed up to her residence around 1 a.m. on April 8.
She told deputies Miller had pushed her to the ground and had been abusive to her in the past. She told deputies she shot Miller then called her father who tried to help transport Miller to the hospital before stopping the car on Drake Road to administer CPR.
The woman was booked into the Kalamazoo County Jail for Miller’s murder, but the next day admitted to investigators she was lying.
The woman told investigators at the jail it was her brother Joriel Cruz, 19, who killed Miller.
Cruz also admitted to the murder, saying he was protecting his sister.
In an interview with detectives, Cruz said he was asleep at the home when he heard his sister screaming outside. He grabbed the gun off the dresser and shot Miller as he chased his sister running away from the mobile home.
Cruz told investigators he was defending his sister and “just let one off.” Cruz called his dad and said, “I need help, I accidentally shot.” Cruz then told investigators he didn’t want Miller to die.
Cruz was formally charged with open murder and felony firearms in Kalamazoo’s 8th District Court last week. His sister was released from the Kalamazoo County Jail and has not been charged in the homicide.
Cruz’s father admitted to deputies he helped Cruz dispose of the gun, which was registered to him. He led deputies to a swampy area off West V Avenue in Texas Township, where deputies were able to recover the weapon.
At this time, Cruz’s father has not be charged in relation to the homicide.