Hair follicles tests delay Millerberg baby sitter homicide trial

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:03 PM

Tim Gurrister

OGDEN — Eric Millerberg’s trial in the drug overdose death of his baby sitter was bumped eight months Tuesday because of hair follicles.

At a status conference, both the prosecution and the defense told 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley next month’s trial would have to be delayed as the existence of follicle tests of Millerberg’s hair only recently became known.

The defense will need weeks to examine the testing to determine any relevance to the case, likely requiring the hiring of an expert, which triggers a cost review when public defenders request additional funding. Prosecutors would then need time to respond to any findings.

“It’s frustrating but unavoidable,” Deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Shaw told the judge. “He has the right to a fair trial.”

Trial had been set for July for Millerberg, charged with child abuse homicide and related offenses in the drug overdose death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen in September 2011.

The hair follicle tests are in the possession of the state Division of Child and Family Services, apparently as part of wife Dea Millerberg’s proceedings in juvenile court over custody of the couple’s two minor children.

Randall Marshall, Eric Millerberg’s public defender, said after Tuesday’s hearing the first hurdle is obtaining the hair follicle testing results from DCFS.

He wouldn’t comment on how they impact the case. “I can’t really discuss it,” Marshall said. “All I can say is it’s relevant.”

In fall 2011, Dea and Eric Millerberg were both arrested on unrelated charges before they were charged in Rasmussen’s death. Dea Millerberg was subsequently charged with child endangerment after police said hair follicle testing of the couple’s then one-year-old child tested positive for methamphetamine exposure.

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 the Millerbergs in their North Ogden home, where Rasmussen often baby-sat.

Because of conflicts in the schedules of the numerous lawyers involved, the soonest available trial date for Eric Millerberg was in February. Hadley set the trial for Feb. 10, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21.

His trial had been set to run from July 22 into the first week of August, with Dea Millerberg slated to testify against him. Her trial was set to follow and will also likely have to be rescheduled.

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