OGDEN -- Dea Millerberg took the stand Monday and described her husband twice injecting Alexis Rasmussen with methamphetamine just before watching her die.
The testimony came at Eric Millerberg's preliminary hearing in 2nd District Court on charges in the Sept. 11 death of the 16-year-old Rasmussen.
Eric Millerberg is charged with child abuse homicide, obstruction of justice, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and abuse of a corpse.
The girl was supposedly baby sitting for the couple Sept. 10, but she was actually continuing the drug-riddled relationship she'd fallen into with the Millerbergs, who were twice her age.
She failed to return home the next day and was reported missing by her family. Her body was discovered Oct. 18 in a remote area of Morgan County.
The police descriptions of finding the girl's body were the most wrenching moments during the four-hour hearing, drawing tears from many friends and family who filled the courtroom.
The body was found face-down near Taggart some 30 yards from a dirt road, her knees folded against her chest, her body half-stuffed into a large plastic bag. Police labored to lift her intact, because of the high level of decomposition, North Ogden detective Mike Tribe testified.
Dea Millerberg, testifying under immunity, said that on Sept. 10, possibly the early morning hours of Sept. 11, her husband injected Alexis Rasmussen for the second time that night with methamphetamine. After the second injection, Dea Millerberg said Alexis was "ecstatic ... she said it was the highest she had ever been."
A few weeks earlier, the couple had injected Alexis with meth for the first time, and the teen had joined the couple for a sexual "three-way," also for the first time.
She said the teen asked again on Sept. 11 to have sex with the couple, but Eric couldn't perform because he had taken heroin earlier in the day.
Soon after that, Dea Millerberg said, Alexis' demeanor changed and she became disoriented.
The girl "was freaking out," Dea Millerberg testified. "She kept saying 'Leave me alone, leave me alone.' "
Then the girl began shaking and told the Millerbergs that she was cold and asked if she could take a bath. Later, she was so unsteady that she couldn't get out of the tub without help.
All the while, Dea Millerberg said, Rasmussen continued to say "Leave me alone," and so they left her on a bed for half an hour while they went outside for a cigarette. Dea said Eric told her "let's let her chill out."
When they returned, she was not breathing. Dea Millerberg, who is a nurse, said she tried to resuscitate the girl but there was no response.
At that point, she testified, they discussed what to do and decided to dispose of the body, because they would lose custody of their children otherwise and Eric would go to prison.
She described a meandering search for a place to dispose of the body, then tossing into trash bins Rasmussen's belongings and the large footlocker in which they hauled her body. They ended up in Riverdale to wash evidence out of their car.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Scott Hadley found evidence sufficient to advance the case to trial. He set a May 15 status conference.
Defense attorney Randall Marshall, in remarks to reporters, described plea negotiation discussions as "not serious. They want Eric to plead to the child homicide charge, and he's not willing to do that.
"My client would want me to say Lexi's (Rasmussen's) death is a tragedy," Marshall said. "That doesn't mean Eric is guilty of anything to do with the death."
Marshall argued in court that because the state medical examiner testified the official cause of death was listed as "undetermined," no link had been made from his client to a homicide.
But Weber County Attorney Dee Smith countered that the small amount of toxicology testing that was possible with the decomposed remains still showed huge levels of meth in Rasmussen's muscle tissue.
The meth was measured at 3,500 nanograms per gram of muscle when 20 nanograms is considered extensive, Smith said, allowing the medical examiner to say drug overdose was "highly plausible" as a cause of death.