Six bailiffs stood guard Friday in Stanislaus County Superior Court when a jury returned a first-degree murder verdict against an Empire man whose prior convictions and white supremacist tattoos make him one of the more hardened criminals to pass through the local legal system.
But Dion Milam, 35, took it all in stride, even though the judgment makes him eligible for life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Milam admitted prior convictions for assault and burglary, eliminating the need for a court trial that otherwise would be necessary to establish their veracity. And he blew kisses to his teary mother and other family members as he was led from the courtroom.
Six men and six women deliberated for less than one day before they said Milam is guilty of shooting 45-year-old Billy Led-erle while trying to steal cash and methamphetamine from the Empire man.
In addition to murder, Milam was found guilty of residential burglary, attempted robbery, attempted brandishing of a firearm to resist arrest and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Two words scrawled over Milam's eyebrows, "Aryan Honor," never were mentioned during his two-week trial because his white supremacist beliefs did not have a direct connection with his crimes.
Members of Lederle's family thanked the jurors as they left the courtroom.
Judge John G. Whiteside said he will sentence Milam on Nov. 30.
Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2338.