Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Nissa Baillie



Manslaughter and Theft


15 years

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Judicially Exonerated

Summary of Case:

"Nissa Baillie, Christopher Cole and Thomas Miller were codefendants wrongly convicted in 1997 of manslaughter in the death of three 18-year-old males whose car was broadsided in February 1996 by a semi-truck in an intersection in Hillsborough County, Florida. The truck had the right of way, which wasn’t known by the oncoming car because the stop sign was lying out of sight beside the road. On April 4, 1996 Nissa Baillie (20), Christopher Cole (19) and Thomas Miller (19) were each charged with three counts of manslaughter in the deaths of the cars three occupants, Kevin Farr, Brian Hernandez and Randall White, and one count of grand theft. The grand theft charge was based on the accusation the three had stolen almost two dozen signs in the area and had taken down the stop sign at the fatal intersection. The three defendants admitted to police they had stolen some signs and thrown some in a creek, but not the stop sign at the intersection where Farr, Hernandez and White were killed. During the trial of the three defendants in the spring of 1997 the prosecution introduced a total of 21 signs recovered either in the creek or the trailer where the defendants lived. The defense called an expert testified that he examined the stop sign post and believed something pushed it over. A man who was driving to a luncheon the day before the crash testified that as he pulled up to the intersection, he saw a semi-truck backing up across the road toward the sign. He said that when he came back after lunch, the stop sign was on the ground. Baillie, Cole and Miller were convicted by the jury on May 14, 1997, and the judge sentenced each to 15 years in prison. All three were allowed to remain free on bond pending their appeal. In 1998, the three defendant’s a post-conviction motion for a new trial based on new witness evidence the stop sign was down days before the accident. During an evidentiary hearing several witnesses testified that before the defendant’s trial they reported to either Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives or the prosecution that the sign had been down for days. One witness who said that after she told a prosecutor about the sign being down the prosecutor told her she intended to “burn their [the defendant’s] ass.” The motion for a new trial was denied by the trial court. On March 30, 2001 the Florida Court of Appeals ruled on the defendant’s direct appeal. The appeals court reversed the manslaughter convictions of all three defendants based on the prosecution misconduct of two prejudicial errors during closing arguments. The defendant’s grand theft convictions were not overturned. On May 21, 2001, the Hillsborough County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the manslaughter charges. For the grand theft convictions the defendants were resentenced to perform community service, and they successfully completed their sentences their convictions were dismissed."

Conviction Caused By:

Prosecutor misconduct for making two prejudicial errors during their closing argument.

Innocence Proved By:

"In March 2001 the Florida Court of Appeals reversed the manslaughter convictions of all three defendants based on improper comments the prosecution made during closing arguments. On May 21, 2001, the Hillsborough County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the manslaughter charges. Their grand theft convictions were not overturned, but they were resentenced to community service, and their convictions were dismissed after they completed their sentences."

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Information Source 1:

"Miller v. State, 782 So. 2d 426 (Fla: Dist. Ct of App, 2nd Dist., 2001)"

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