The filmmaker, 53, initially denied charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass following the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, who was hit and killed by a train while shooting footage for now-abandoned Allman Brothers biopic Midnight Rider on railroad tracks in Wayne County, Georgia.

He changed his plea to guilty in March (15), shortly before he was due to go to trial, in exchange for similar counts to be dropped against his wife, producer Jody Savin.

Under the terms of the agreement, Miller would serve two years behind bars, pay a $25,000 (£15,625) fine and complete 360 hours of community service, while he must also refrain from making any films while he serves his eight-year probation.

However, last week (ends04Dec15), Miller's attorney, Ed Garland, filed papers seeking to have his client released on the grounds of exhibiting model behaviour, and health concerns.

"Doctors consulted by Mr. Miller's family fear that congestive heart failure might be the cause of his sudden weight gain, bilateral edema, shortness of breath and persistent cough; they have determined that an intensive cardiac workup is required to diagnose and treat Mr. Miller's condition," Garland writes in papers filed in Wayne County Superior Court.

A hearing has been set for 23 December (15), but the move has already been met with opposition from members of the general public, according to Deadline.com.

A petition launched online has garnered the support of more than 1,000 people, who are urging Wayne County Sheriff John Carter to deny Miller's request for an early release because "his actions represent a dangerous attitude in the entertainment industry and it is important to all those who work in the industry that an example is made of his callous negligence".

Production on Midnight Rider was shut down indefinitely following the tragedy, which also left eight other crewmembers injured.