Uncle Louie Florida Times-Union

Johnie Lewis Miller, "Uncle Louie," a mime who performs in New Orleans' historic French Quarter, adjusts his tie as he readies himself for another day's work on an almost deserted Bourbon Street six months after Hurricane Katrina.

BY BOB SELF | The Florida Times-Union

The French Quarter "human statue" known as Uncle Louie has agreed to be transferred to Florida to face charges in connection with a killing there more than four decades ago.

Johnie Lewis Miller, 60, consented to the transfer Tuesday after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed warrants for his extradition.

Authorities say that forensic evidence implicates Miller in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Freddie Farah during a botched robbery at Farah's grocery store in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 22, 1974.

But Miller, who was arrested in late May, has denied involvement in the slaying or ever going to the convenience store where the killing occurred, though he admits to living in Jacksonville in 1974, according to court records.

Miller's attorney in New Orleans, Aubrey Harris, said the evidence against her client is thin. Fingerprints on items at the store tie Miller to the scene, but Harris said countless people touch things sold at stores.

Miller will be represented in Florida by attorney Ann Finnell, who served on the high-profile defense team for Casey Anthony, who was acquitted in 2011 of murdering her daughter.

Harris represented Miller pro bono in New Orleans. In hopes of getting him top-level legal representation in Florida, a number of Miller supporters in New Orleans and beyond have been contributing to fundraisers online and at live events.

According to court records, a woman who was 14 when she witnessed Farah's fatal shooting recently told investigators that she watched the killer place a cake mix box, a frosting can and a soft drink on a store counter.

She said the killer then pointed a gun over the witness' head at Farah and said, "This is a stick-up. This is a hold-up."

Farah, a father of four, tried to swat the gun away but was shot, said the unidentified witness, who did not know the killer. The killer then fled.

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Fred Farah

Fred Farah

Investigators recovered fingerprints from the items left on the counter by the killer, but attempts in 1974 and 1998 to find a match for them failed.

Authorities ran the fingerprints through a database again late last year, and they were notified that fingerprints on the frosting can and cake mix box matched those of Miller, who had prior minor arrests.

Jacksonville police obtained a warrant to arrest Miller on counts of murder and attempted armed robbery.

Police from Jacksonville then teamed up with cops in New Orleans to arrest Miller in the 700 block of St. Louis Street in the middle of May.

He denied wrongdoing and opted against immediately agreeing to extradition. Waiting for the paperwork from the Louisiana and Florida governors to be filed gave him time to visit with family and get other affairs in order before going to Florida to face the charges, Harris said.

Miller's arrest shocked many local people. Since the early 1990s, countless tourists and locals have posed for pictures with "Uncle Louie" while he was frozen mid-step in his Uncle Sam-inspired costume, pretending to walk a miniature stuffed dog named Little Willie.

But among Farah's family members, news of Miller's arrest brought a sense of relief.

The victim's son, Bobby Farah, said, "Someone was out there that was responsible, and I wanted to find out who that person could be."

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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