Steven Ray Milam's long run as the "Handsome Guy Bandit" came to a sudden end on a rural Mississippi highway in January of this year, as the former casket salesman turned bank robber led local police on a chase along Interstate 10. Officers tried no less than three times to spike-strip his vehicle, but Milam managed to evade them each time. Finally, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd pulled up alongside Milam, pulled out his .40-caliber Sig Sauer pistol and shot out Milam's back tire.
Milam was then dragged from his vehicle and put into the squad car, where he promptly vomited.
"Call the FBI in Dallas," he told police, when he could speak again. "They'll know who I am. They're the ones looking for me."
Yesterday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Dallas, Milam was sentenced to 35 years for two counts of brandishing and using a firearm during the commission of a crime. In an emotional speech to Judge Sam Lindsay, Milam, often on the brink of tears, asked for forgiveness for what he called "my abhorrent behavior."
Milam pleaded guilty in May to 11 counts of bank robbery; his sentencing Monday was for brandishing a firearm during a bank heist on November 22, 2011, when he pointed a gun at BB&T bank workers and forced them into a vault, and for shooting at a Richardson police officer on December 31, 2011, after a botched robbery attempt. The three bullets shattered the windshield of the officer's cruiser and hit his front and passenger doors on the driver's side.
Milam's attorney Brian Alexander called his client "contrite and acting in good faith." He suggested too that Milam's "bad, horrible trajectory" had been "escalated" after Milam had steroid pellets surgically implanted into him in August 2011. Milam was being treated for "low energy," Alexander said.
"I do take full responsibility for my careless and thoughtless actions," Milam, clad in an orange jumpsuit with a white T-shirt underneath, told the judge. "My abhorrent behavior has affected multitudes of people. Words will never be able to address how sorry I am."
According to court records, Milam attempted suicide in custody in February at FCI Seagoville, where he was held while awaiting trial and sentencing. A July report by Judge Lindsay doesn't specify the manner in which he attempted to kill himself, but calls it "a calculated and serious attempt by Milam to take his life and have the charges against him vacated so that seized property could be returned to his family." Milam also took a handful of Tylenol PM tablets just before he was taken into custody in Mississippi; he denied to the court that he'd been trying to harm himself that time, stating that after he realized the police had ID'ed him as a wanted man he "became nervous and took the tablets to relax."
Milam added yesterday that he replays the attempted shooting of the Richardson police officer in his mind every day and acknowledged that he had "failed as a husband, a father, a son, a brother and a friend." He promised to "work diligently to find redemption." Milam's wife, Jamie, filed for divorce in January.
"My life was comprised of so many faces and masks, I had to win an Oscar every day I arose," he said. "I prayed for the day when I would be discovered and captured, so I could stop the convoluted web of lies my life had become."
"Some people would say you're lucky," Judge Lindsay told Milam. "Some people would say you're blessed to be alive. ... It's a wonder you're not dead right now by your actions. Most people that fire on police officers, the outcome is usually not too good."
After sentencing Milam to 420 months, the judge added a few other conditions. Milam will have to make restitution to Richardson PD and BB&T bank, totaling around $51,000. After his release, when Milam will be in his 70s, he will be required to avoid intoxicants and submit to mental health treatment and counseling. He also won't be permitted to open a line of credit without permission from his parole officer.