Von Miller's urine-soaked six-game suspension, more about death-penalty witness list

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Original post, 6:05 a.m. August 20: At this point, Von Miller, the Broncos all-pro who was recently arrested for failing to appear at a court date over a traffic violation and may now be facing a six-game suspension for alleged violation of the NFL's drug policy, doesn't need to appear in more crime and punishment headlines. But here he goes again.

What now? Miller is listed as a possible witness in the death penalty case of Dexter Lewis, charged in the shocking murders of five people at Fero's Bar & Grill last October.

The story comes to us from 9News, which notes that Miller's name popped up in a newly filed court document. It suggests that the Denver District Attorney's Office may be interested in calling Miller as a "a possible acquaintance of (a friend of Lewis)" who "may testify about prior events and the Defendant's attire."

There's nothing in this description that suggests Miller was involved in the killings in any way -- a point stressed by the Denver Broncos organization, which told the station it's aware of the situation and understands that the player is cooperating fully with investigators.

Even so, the timing could not possibly be worse from Miller's standpoint. He was already facing a four-game suspension in connection with a drug test said to have been prompted by a 2011 positive reading for marijuana and amphetamines -- possibly the club drug Molly.

Then, right before he was scheduled to plead his case for leniency before NFL officials, Miller was busted at Centennial Gun Club on a warrant active since January, days after he skipped out on a court date for careless driving, driving without a license and no proof of insurance.

Many observers felt the bust would have zero effect on Miller's punishment in the drug case -- but lo and behold, the original appeal session was delayed, and now, persistent reports hold that he will now be put on the shelf for six games, not four.

If the punishment actually goes up from four games to six, the rationale may be the league's extremely flexible "personal conduct" policy. We found a 2008 copy online and have shared the complete document below -- but here's the introduction:
All persons associated with the NFL are required to avoid "conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League." This requirement applies to players, coaches, other tam employees, owners, game officials and all others privileged to work in the National Football League.

For many years, it has been well understood that rules promoting lawful, ethical, and responsible conduct serve the interests of the League, its players, and fans. Illegal or irresponsible conduct does more than simply tarnish the offender. It puts innocent people at risk, sullies the reputation of others involved in the game, and undermines public respect and support for the NFL.

Let's be clear: To extend Miller's suspension even further simply for knowing the friend of a man thought to have committed such a heinous act would be the height of unfairness. But the NFL doesn't have the most consistent reputation for equity.

We've got a call into the Denver DA's office asking for more information about Miller's presence on the witness list and will update this post when and if we receive a response. In the meantime, here's the aforementioned 9News report, followed by the personal conduct policy and our entire July 26 post about Lewis being charged with the death penalty, including an arrest report that provides startling details about the crime of which he's been accused.

NFL Personal Conduct Policy

"Dexter Lewis target of death penalty bid for Fero's killing, affidavit describes horrific scene," July 26. Update: Earlier this week, after Joseph and Lynell Hill pleaded guilty in the murder of five people at Fero's Bar & Grill (see our previous coverage below), observers speculated that pressure was building on Dexter Lewis, also charged in the case, to make a deal as well. But that may never have been an option. The Denver District Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty for Lewis -- the first time it has done so in more than a decade. An original arrest affidavit argues for such prosecution via a vivid depiction of a horrific crime. Continue to see the document and more.

Continue for more about the charging of Dexter Lewis with the death penalty for the quintuple murder and arson at Fero's Bar & Grille.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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