Metro-East News

Man accused of DUI in roller derby mom’s death pleads not guilty

Steven Willis, left, and Samantha Miller
Steven Willis, left, and Samantha Miller

The man accused of the drunken-driving crash in Madison County that killed a mother of three has pleaded not guilty and has hired St. Louis attorney Scott Rosenblum to defend him.

Steven L. Willis, 38, of Maryville, was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence in connection with the Oct. 23 crash that killed Samantha Miller, 27, of Swansea. Miller was on her way to roller derby practice with her three children when her black Mitsubishi broke down on Interstate 55 near Maryville.

Rosenblum said Wednesday he hasn’t yet formulated a defense strategy.

“It is a little early. We are in the process of evaluating the evidence. We don’t even have all of it yet,” Rosenblum said.

In Willis’ case, Illinois State Police Trooper Josh Korando wrote in an affidavit that Willis showed multiple signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, red, glassy eyes, and an inability to keep his balance. Willis also failed all the field sobriety tests, Korando said.

“Willis submitted to a portable breathalyzer and it resulted in a reading of 0.120,” Korando wrote. In Illinois, the threshold for a drunken-driving ciation is 0.08 percent.

Willis’ 2014 grey Chevrolet pickup struck Miller, who was found in a ditch near her car, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It is unclear if she was in her car or walking on the shoulder at the time of the crash,” Korando wrote.

Korando wrote the affidavit as part of an application for a search warrant. He was seeking a diagnostic module in Willis’ truck that contained information on the truck’s movements before the crash.

The affidavit states that Willis told Korando he didn’t remember the crash, but the truck showed “visible signs of body damage associated with a traffic crash.”

The truck was towed to Illinois State Police District 11 headquarters in Collinsville.

Willis was released from jail within days of his arrest, after $20,000 in cash was posted for his bond.

Willis faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Court records show that Willis has been issued at least 40 traffic citations since 1994.

We are in the process of evaluating the evidence. We don’t even have all of it yet.

Scott Rosenblum, attorney for Steven Willis

Rosenblum has defended numerous high-profile clients, including former St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk in a civil suit brought by a former girlfriend who accused Faulk of domestic abuse. The jury ruled in Faulk’s favor.

Rosenblum also represented former Rams defensive end Leonard Little, who was charged in 1998 with a crash that killed a woman. Little was sentenced to four years’ probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Rosenblum also defended Little when he was arrested again for driving while intoxicated in 2004. Little was stopped for speeding by Ladue police, admitted to drinking, but was later acquitted of the drunken-driving charge.