Ex-detective accused of killing police chief at Pensacola Beach hotel found guilty

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A former Oklahoma detective was found guilty Wednesday of killing his police chief in November 2019.

An Escambia County jury found 50-year-old Michael Patrick Nealey guilty of second-degree murder. Nealey was found guilty of hitting his boss Lucky Miller several times, causing fatal blunt force trauma, as well as cutting off his airway by strangulation and smothering.

Nealey and Miller shared a hotel room at the Pensacola Beach Hilton Hotel on Nov. 10, 2019. They had traveled to Pensacola from Mannford, Oklahoma, to attend a law enforcement death investigation conference held at the hotel.

Instead, Miller’s death ended up being investigated there.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors pointed to evidence such as swelling in Nealey’s hands, blood found on his clothes, and testimony from a security guard who found Nealey on top of Miller that night.

Witnesses testified they heard noises coming from Miller and Nealey’s room for hours before the homicide. A witness, who was staying in a neighboring room, said they heard someone saying, “stop it, Mike!” several times, before the words faded to nothing.

A medical examiner said Miller died from blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxiation by strangulation and smothering.

The medical examiner testified Miller took at least six blows to the head. Prosecutors said at least one of hits from Nealey had the impact of a car accident. Prosecutors described the injury as “internal decapitation.”

Miller also had internal injuries to his neck, consistent with being strangled, prosecutors said.

Both men were highly intoxicated at the time of the homicide, which the defense tried to use to their favor.

During his closing arguments Wednesday, Nealey’s defense attorney Gene Mitchell said his client was so drunk that he slipped off the bed onto Miller, and because of his condition, he wasn’t physically able to get off of Miller.

Nealey did not testify. It took just two hours for the jury to return the guilty verdict.

Nealey will be sentenced April 29 at 1 p.m.

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