Pubdate: Fri, 14 Feb 2014
Source: Daily Herald, The (Provo, UT)
Copyright: 2014 The Daily Herald
Author: Brady McCombs


A jury Friday found a Utah man guilty of child abuse homicide in the
death of a teenage baby sitter who prosecutors say died after the man
gave her a lethal dose of drugs during a night of drugs and sex that
also included the man's wife.

The eight jurors reached their verdict about two hours after they were
given the case. Eric Millerberg, 38, was also found guilty of unlawful
sexual contact with a minor, obstruction of justice and desecration of
a dead body in the 2011 death of Alexis Rasmussen, 16.

Sentencing was set for March 18.

During a three-day trial, prosecutors brought detectives, medical
examiners, prisoners and Millerberg's wife, Dea Millerberg, to the
stand to show that he recklessly injected Rasmussen with lethal doses
of heroin and methamphetamine during a night of drugs and sex that
also included his wife. Prosecutors told jurors that Eric Millerberg
and his wife then dumped her body in the woods of northern Utah while
lying to police as the girl's mother desperately searched for her for
more than a month.

Dea Millerberg, 40, is awaiting her own criminal trial in April on
charges of desecration of a body. She testified against her husband
during the trial.

"I'm just very happy for the family," Weber County Attorney Dee Smith
told the Salt Lake Tribune after the verdict was read. "They have some
closure now."

Eric Millerberg's attorney, Randall Marshall, told reporters his
client was disappointed. Marshall said he expected guilty verdicts on
some charges, "but I was a little disappointed in some of it."

Smith started his closing argument Friday by showing the jury a
picture of a smiling Rasmussen holding her little sister about one
year before her death. Then, he showed a picture of her dead body
covered by a muddy piece of foam in the woods of northern Utah.

Smith said the Millerbergs dumped her there, "discarded like a piece
of trash," and then lied to police for more than a month about her

Smith called Eric Millerberg's actions with Rasmussen deplorable,
saying he had supplied her with drugs and had sex on previous
occasions as well, later bragging to fellow prisoners that he partied
with teenage girls. Smith reminded the jury that laws exist to protect
teens who are prone to experimenting and making mistakes when they
aren't with their parents.

"Ordinary people don't inject little girls with heroin and
methamphetamine," Smith said, later adding: "You don't have sex with
16-year-olds when you're a month away from turning 36. You don't look
for dates with juniors in high school."

Marshall argued in closing arguments that the case against Eric
Millerberg is based on lies by Dea Millerberg meant to protect
herself. He reminded jurors that she struggled to remember details
during cross-examination about the night of Rasmussen's death.

"Dea Millerberg told a great story, but it doesn't add up," Marshall

He said there's no evidence, other than Dea Millerberg's account, to
prove Eric Millerberg injected Rasmussen with the drugs.

"How do we know Dea didn't shoot her up?" Marshall

He reminded jurors that the state medical examiner stopped short of
declaring Rasmussen's cause of death was a drug overdose. Marshall
also suggested to the jury that Dea Millerberg was responsible for the
death and recruited her husband to help her dump the body.

Earlier Friday, a Utah assistant medical examiner, Joseph White,
testified that Rasmussen had enormous amounts of methamphetamine and
heroin in her system that likely caused her death. She had seven times
the lethal amount of methamphetamine in her system and high levels of
morphine and amphetamines, White said.

"These are obviously significant results," White said. "Certainly,
enough to explain the death."

But White said he couldn't rule out other possibilities such as
strangulation, stabbing or blunt-force trauma because the girl's body
was badly decomposed.

Prosecutors say the girl was found 38 days after her death in a
remote, wooded area in Weber County.

"It's a foul circumstance, and it seemed clear that somebody else was
involved," White said, while later adding, "I felt it was most
intellectually honest to list the cause and manner (of death) as

Defense attorneys didn't bring any witnesses to the stand during
trial, and Eric Millerberg also declined to testify.

He sat with his attorneys during the trial wearing glasses and a suit
and tie that largely hides his array of neck and arm tattoos. He
occasionally spoke to his attorneys, but he remained largely stoic.

Family and friends of Rasmussen filled the front row of the gallery,
carefully listening to testimony as they whispered to each other.
Rasmussen's mother cried during the prosecution's closing arguments.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D