Prosecutors say 51-year-old Paul Miller dialed 911 Tuesday evening from a small assisted-living home in Anchorage and reported that he had just shot his caretaker, according to court documents released Wednesday.
Anchorage police swarmed the quiet Midtown neighborhood around 5:15 p.m. and found Miller waiting outside of the home, located at 309 E. 24th Ave, and a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun sitting on the railing of the front porch. Inside the home, police officers found the body of 63-year-old Eduardo Escalante. Escalante died from multiple gunshot wounds to his neck, arm and torso, said the documents filed in Anchorage District Court.
Family members of Escalante who gathered at the crime scene Tuesday said he worked at the assisted-living home with his wife. The couple moved to Anchorage from the Philippines in March. Court documents say Miller told the 911 operator he “just shot the Filipino."
Police interviewed another male resident Tuesday at the assisted-living home. State records identify the address as Allison Assisted Living Home, licensed to house up to five residents.
The resident told officers that before the shooting, Escalante, whom he called “Eddy,” was watching television in the kitchen. Miller was outside on the phone. The man said he did not see the shooting, but heard three to four shots inside the house. Court documents say the man “did not check on Eddy because he did not want to know if he was dead so he went back to his room.”
Police took Miller into custody. He was charged with first- and second-degree murder.
On Wednesday, Miller made his first court appearance at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. Two correctional officers brought him out in a wheelchair. He was wrapped in a gray blanket. His bare back was exposed.
Sherrie Daigle, deputy director of the Alaska Department of Corrections, wrote in an email that prisoners may attend court with a blanket covering them for medical reasons or if they refuse to put on clothing.
“I don’t have specific information on this case,” she wrote.
At the brief hearing, Judge Brian Clark asked Miller if he could afford to hire his own attorney. Miller answered, “Yeah.” He had a full gray beard and looked down at his hands during most of the hearing.
For each murder charge, Miller faces up to 99 years in jail and a fine of up to $500,000, Clark said.
Miller has a lengthy criminal record in Alaska. Between 1982 and 1991, he was convicted of assault at least five times, as well criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, driving while intoxicated and shoplifting.
Clark set Miller’s bail at $500,000 cash. If he posts bail, he is to stay away from 309 E. 24th Ave. and not possess firearms, Clark said.
No family or friends of Escalante or Miller attended the hearing in person. A woman identified as “Ms. Escalante” called in to listen to the hearing over the phone. She was quiet, only telling the judge, “I don’t want him to be able to post bail.”
A cousin described Escalante Tuesday as a “family man” who was always smiling. He was a father to four children who live in the Philippines and a grandfather to many.
Miller’s next court date is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m.