Brittany Miles was behind the wheel of her truck at a traffic light along a busy highway with her eyes closed.
Authorities had been looking for Miles’ red Dodge Ram for most of the morning before Pasco Sheriff’s Deputy Ashley Grady noticed it.
People were calling 911 to report a reckless driver in the area. The first call came almost five hours earlier when Miles got off work at the Brass Flamingo the morning of May 10, according to court documents.
Grady guessed Miles had dozed off for about 15 seconds before a frustrated motorist behind her honked the horn to let her know the light had turned green.
Moments later, Grady turned on her emergency lights and pulled over the drowsy driver along U.S. 19.
Evidence filed by the State Attorney’s Office revealed the following:
Miles, 21, failed a series of sobriety tests and admitted to consuming seven alcoholic drinks the night before. She sat in the backseat of Grady’s patrol car while the deputy filled out an arrest affidavit.
Grady stated Miles was cooperative, emotional and talkative. She had body tremors, stood unsteadily and had mumbled speech.
Another deputy had parked his car behind Grady. A tow truck driver arrived to remove Miles’ vehicle.
The backseat window had been rolled down so the backup deputy could talk to the suspect about the pills he found inside her truck.
They were aspirins, she told him. She stuffed them in a cigarette pack because the bottle was broken.
At first, the arrest did not seem unusual for the U.S. 19 corridor through Pasco County, where there is an abundance of bars and strip clubs.
This particular DUI case would end in horrifying fashion.
More than 90 minutes had passed. It was 8:55 a.m. and Miles needed to be in a Hernando County courtroom.
The backup deputy, Christopher Greifenberger, agreed to call the suspect’s mother and tell her she was going to miss her custody hearing. Miles thought about the consequences and the possibility of losing her son.
Panic started to set in for Miles. Her window of opportunity to retrieve her truck and speed away was seconds from closing.
The tow truck driver was about to remove the Dodge from the highway. Miles was about to go to jail. Her keys were in the truck’s ignition. The petite exotic dancer freed her left wrist from the handcuffs.
Nine minutes later, Grady lay injured on the asphalt with a broken ankle and leg and had blood gushing from her head. Five miles north along the same highway, a motorcyclist lay dead with lacerated organs and crushed bones.
After jumping out of her mangled truck and getting tackled by Greifenberger, Miles wound up in the back of an ambulance with a cervical collar around her neck. She started to cry.
A deputy said he overheard Miles utter the following later to an emergency room nurse at Oak Hill Hospital:
“I was under the influence. She was trying to arrest me. I had to get to court so I don’t lose my child. So I left and got into an accident. I ran for my son so I wouldn’t lose him. I guess now I lost him anyway.”
‘I didn’t do it on purpose’
Miles’ charges in Hernando County are first-degree murder and aggravated fleeing or eluding law enforcement.
The murder charge is for the death of Henry McCain, 66, who was crossing the County Line Road intersection on his motorcycle when Miles’ truck mowed him down, deputies said.
In Pasco, she was charged with attempted murder on Grady, escape, fleeing or eluding and DUI.
If convicted of the first-degree murder charge, Miles could be sent to death row.
Piles of evidence have been added to the court file, including documents revealing more details of Miles’ DUI arrest and subsequent escape and a recording of a phone call she made from the jail a couple days later.
“My mom is saying that no matter what, I’m gonna end up doing time,” Miles said during the call. “Right now, they have me on the death penalty.”
Miles’ mother is Debra Miles, a Hernando County Sheriff’s deputy.
She spoke over the phone to Oliver Bevins, the father of her 2-year-old son. She told him several times she loved him.
Miles said her mother told her not to discuss the case over the phone. Bevins said he got the same message. They spent most of their 15-minute conversation talking about it.
“It was a (expletive deleted) accident,” Miles said. “It was a car accident. As far as the deputy, she jumped on the truck … It’s not like I hit her. She fell off.
“It was her decision,” she continued. “She just jumped on the (expletive deleted) truck while I was driving.”
Miles revealed moments of sorrow and regret, but only while it was mixed with confusion about the charges filed against her.
“They can’t do this to me,” she told Bevins. “Did you hear the charges they have against me? Like, (expletive deleted) murder? I didn’t, you know what I mean? Like, I didn’t do it on purpose … Like, it was a car accident. Do you know what I mean? How can they charge me with murder for a car accident?
“I’m sorry,” she said later. “I’m so (expletive deleted) sorry. This whole thing is a big (expletive deleted) accident. They can’t do this to me.”
She said she was scared she would be imprisoned for the rest of her life.
An emotional Bevins promised he would wait for her – even if she remains behind bars until she’s 50 years old.
Miles told him she had been detoxing while in jail. The side effects were “disgusting,” she said.
Bevins told Miles had she stayed in Grady’s car and peacefully gone to jail, she probably would not have spent an extended time behind bars. He said DUI suspects in Pasco are released as soon as they get sober.
“I wish you had relayed the message to me before I did anything stupid,” she told him.
Miles confronted Natalia Magnifico-Ortiz outside her workplace the morning of March 26, deputies said.
“Are you the (expletive deleted) who hit me?” Miles asked her.
Magnifico-Ortiz tried to explain it wasn’t her.
Miles threw her to the ground, struck her and pulled out clumps of her hair, according to court documents. A witness corroborated Magnifico-Ortiz’s story. Others saw the two women on the ground fighting.
Pasco deputies arrived, but Magnifico-Ortiz initially declined to pursue charges.
Miles left the area in a taxi. She said she didn’t remember anything until she woke up naked in a stranger’s house.
Miles said the man rubbed up against her and asked her what she charged for sex. She said she wasn’t into that.
She called her mother shortly after 1 p.m. that day and asked her to pick her up.
“I was angry with my daughter because of her recent behavior and told her to call one of her friends to help her,” Debra Miles told the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. “I was done with her.”
She had already spent the morning looking for her daughter and was driving home.
After she made it home, Debra Miles had a change of heart. She and her husband drove to the area of Moog Road in New Port Richey to find her.
Brittany Miles called her mother from an unknown number. She said several times she didn’t know where she was, according to court documents.
Her mother called the number on her caller ID and a man answered. He told her he found her hours earlier in the back of a deputy cruiser and didn’t want to see her go to jail.
She was released and he brought her back to his place, he said.
He insisted he slept on the sofa and she slept in another room.
He told Debra Miles he was a “perfect gentleman.”
She thought he sounded suspicious.
Miles said she saw her daughter in the passenger seat of a passing car near a pizzeria along U.S. 19. She confronted the man who was driving her. Others who knew the man pulled up and laughed at what they were seeing – an angry mother picking up her intoxicated adult daughter.
Brittany Miles still hadn’t reached rock bottom.
Determined not to go to jail
Grady lay on the asphalt after falling from a pickup that had accelerated to more than 70 mph.
The bewildered tow truck driver, Timothy Moore, heard her yell, “The female suspect pushed me out the window!”
Moments earlier, Miles had flung the rear driver’s side door open, according to Grady’s report.
She ran to the truck with Grady in pursuit.
As Grady grabbed hold of the inside of the vehicle and as Miles picked up speed, she told the deputy, “I’m not going to jail. I have a court date at 9 for my son and you’re not getting in my vehicle. You’re not stopping me,” according to a transcript of Grady’s interview with a detective.
Grady said she had pressed her forearm against Miles’ neck and shoulder and tried to pull the key out of the ignition, but the suspect jerked the wheel and pushed her out of the truck.
A deputy got ahead of Miles during the chase and tried to slow her down near the intersection of New York Avenue. By then, Miles was driving 100 mph, authorities said.
A cement truck driver tried to stop Miles by blocking part of the highway with his vehicle, but the suspect veered off the road onto the grassy shoulder and avoided the truck, according to reports.
She continued north and zoomed through the red light at Little Road, deputies said.
Greifenberger was among those taking part in the chase, which continued into Hernando County.
When Miles’ truck collided with McCain’s motorcycle, it looked like “an explosion of debris and vehicle parts” flying in the air, according to court documents.
One witness said he saw a “rooster tail of dirt and a cop behind it.” Both were on the shoulder of U.S. 19 north of County Line Road.
Miles, who said she was disoriented after the deployed airbag struck her in the head, traveled off the road and drove over a drainage pipe. She eventually came to a stop near the entrance of Pasco-Hernando Community College and tried to get away on foot, deputies said.
Greifenberger tackled her. She struggled as he reapplied the handcuffs, he stated in his report.
A Florida Highway Patrol trooper at the scene observed Miles in the back of a Spring Hill Fire Rescue ambulance. She had bloodshot eyes and was emotional, she wrote in her report.
Miles was transported to Oak Hill Hospital.
While in the emergency room, she asked about the motorcyclist she had struck, according to reports. She would later say during her jail phone call she swerved to miss him, but he turned in the same direction and she couldn’t avoid the collision.
Hernando County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Dunn watched Miles while she was at the hospital. She struggled to walk to the bathroom.
“I advised her she has to take small steps due to the leg shackles,” Dunn wrote. “Brittany then began to walk on tiptoes and began to giggle and laugh.”
Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.