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Execution Of Daughter’s Killer 'Won’t Help' Mom Who Misses Her ‘Bubbly, Happy’ Girl

David Earl Miller, who has spent 36 years on death row, will be executed by electric chair in Tennessee for the brutal 1981 murder of Lee Standifer, a young woman with a mild mental disability.

By Jill Sederstrom

The details of Lee Standifer's death are chilling.

The 23-year-old was found naked in the backyard of a Knoxville, Tennessee home. She'd been killed by two blows to the head, but after her death, she'd been stabbed eight times, according to The Tennessean.  

The murder in May 1981 was a brutal end for a woman whose mother described her to the Associated Press as a "bubbly, happy" girl who was loved by her family and coworkers.

"You're always missing that person," Helen Standifer said. "It's not as every day, not as constant a pain as it was early on, but it doesn't go away."

Next week, the man convicted of killing her daughter is scheduled to be executed by the electric chair after serving 36 years on death row. David Earl Miller, 61, has served more time on death row than any living inmate, The Tennessean reports.

But the execution, "won't help" Helen Standifer at all. She's chosen not to attend and plans to remember her daughter as she lived.

"I'm not vengeful like that," she told the AP.

She chooses to remember her daughter, who court documents said had diffused brain damage when born and was mildly mentally disabled, as the positive girl who used to have long talks with the neighborhood mailman and once teased her sister by tying jingle bells to her shoes.

Her special needs made some things difficult for the Tennessee resident. She couldn't drive and never went to college, but her family worked hard to help her live an independent life.

Lee Standifer lived in a Knoxville YWCA and got a job at a nearby food processing plant. The repetitive nature of the job never bothered her, and she was well-liked by those she worked with, the AP reports.

"They just loved her," Helen Standifer said. "She was never late and never missed a day."

But then she'd cross paths with Miller, a drifter who had reportedly started to date Standifer before her death.

Miller was staying at the home of a man who had picked him up while hitchhiking and would later claim he had dropped acid before the slaying, according to the Tennessean.

After the murder, he left town, hitchhiking through the country until he was caught in Columbus, Ohio on May 29, 1981, eight days after the body had been discovered.

He's one of the few men who have been sentenced to death twice. The Tennessee Supreme Court threw out his initial death sentence in 1984 after ruling that evidence presented in the trial about two earlier rape arrests shouldn't have been presented to jurors since Miller had never been convicted of the crimes.

But a second jury would reach the same conclusion, once again sentencing him to death in 1987.

Miller has asked that a federal judge allow him to be killed by a firing squad, a method of execution currently outlawed in the state, according to an earlier report by The Tennessean.

The judge has yet to rule on the request made by Miller and three other death row inmates, but Miller has chosen the electric chair over lethal injection, which are the state's two available options currently.

Miller made his preference in a filing with the Nashville federal district court earlier this month, according to WVLT.

"I waive lethal injection and wish to be electrocution [sic]," he allegedly wrote.

Miller is currently scheduled for execution on Dec. 6.

[Photo: Associated Press/Tennessee Department Of Corrections]

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