OGDEN -- Prosecutors have answered a defense motion seeking to move Eric Millerberg's coming trial out of Weber County by saying the murder case caught just as much media attention statewide as it did locally.
Trial is set for July for Millerberg, charged with child abuse homicide in the drug overdose death of his baby sitter, 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen, in September 2011.
The defense motion for a change of venue filed a month ago counts "at least 56 separate articles about Alexis Rasmussen" since she was first reported missing and 34 mentioning Millerberg. It seeks to move the trial to Park City or Salt Lake City.
The response filed by the Weber County Attorney's Office notes the motion "fails to point out that similar media coverage exists in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, which both have the primary newspaper circulation in Salt Lake and Summit Counties. Furthermore, the affidavit fails to acknowledge the extensive coverage of KUTV Channel 2, ABC Channel 4, KSL Channel 5, and FOX Channel 13."
The response motion cites 58 stories in the Standard-Examiner, 32 in the Tribune, and 30 in the Deseret News. Checking the TV station websites, it counts 41 stories with 21 videos on KSL, 29 stories with 18 videos on ABC 4, 21 stories on KUTV, and 10 stories with six videos on FOX 13.
Appellate court decisions "have been clear that extensive media attention does not automatically necessitate a change of venue," the motion states.
"A written jury questionnaire will allow the court to eliminate any biased jurors," reads the motion written by County Attorney Dee Smith. "If a written questionnaire shows that there is overwhelming hostility toward the defendant, a change of venue at that point in time could be reconsidered."
The motion is scheduled for a hearing to air oral arguments Wednesday afternoon before 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley.
Rasmussen's body was found hidden in a remote location of Morgan County on Oct. 18, 2011, five weeks after prosecutors believe she died while partying with Millerberg and his wife, Dea, in their North Ogden home.