Guilty plea follows a lingering death

EVERETT — Michael Miles spent his life battling a disease that threatened to keep him in a wheelchair forever.

Miles suffered from dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, and used a wheelchair until he was 16. With the help of medication, he eventually was able to walk on his own.

The disease never got the best of him — violence did.

Miles withered away in a nursing home for four months after he was brutally attacked in 2008. The beating left him with head injuries he was never able to overcome. He died last year on Aug. 2 in an Everett hospital. He was 53.

On Tuesday the man responsible for the attack pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Nathan Sherlock, 26, faces more than 10 years behind bars for Miles’ death.

“We feel better that there won’t be a long murder trial,” the slain man’s niece Tina Miles said.

A Snohomish woman summoned police early April 30, 2008 after a stranger showed up outside her door. Police spoke with the man, identified as Sherlock. He appeared drunk and told police he’d been assaulted.

A short time later Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies discovered Miles’ battered body lying in the road nearby. He was covered in blood. Police initially thought he had been hit by a car. They later determined that he was the victim of an assault.

Sherlock told police that he and Miles met up in Everett earlier in the evening and were drinking beer together. Miles agreed to drive Sherlock to the Snohomish area. The two began to argue. Sherlock declined to say what sparked the disagreement.

Sherlock told police he kicked Miles in the head and face and left him lying unconscious in the road.

Police saw that Sherlock had blood on his sock, shoes, pants and hands.

Miles was rushed to an Everett hospital. He sustained head injuries and also was suffering from hypothermia from being exposed to the cold. He eventually regained consciousness but suffered permanent brain damage. He was moved to a Snohomish nursing home, where he received nutrients through a feeding tube.

Miles wasted away to 82 pounds and contracted pneumonia. Investigators determined that the head injuries from the assault led to Miles’ death.

Sherlock was charged in November with murder. He is expected to be sentenced in September.

Miles grew up in Everett and graduated from Cascade High School. He was an advocate for people with disabilities, his niece Jane Miles said.

He successfully lobbied for more accessible parking for disabled workers at Boeing, his nieces said. Miles worked at the company for more than 20 years as a mechanic.

“He made the choice to work and not be in a wheelchair,” Tina Miles said.

He enjoyed motorcycles and remote-controlled airplanes.

He also was big fan of “Star Trek,” his nieces said. His headstone reads: “Where no man has gone before.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com.

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