OGDEN -- Eric Millerberg was found guilty of homicide by a jury of his peers after short deliberation on Valentine's Day.
The third and final day of the long-anticipated trial in the 2nd District Court of Ogden ended with a verdict that could put Millerberg in prison for the rest of his life.
The North Ogden man was convicted of being responsible for the death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen on September 10, 2011. He was found guilty of first-degree felony child abuse homicide, sexual misconduct with a minor, obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body.
The homicide charge alone carries a potential five years to life in prison.
The prosecution argued that Millerberg had given Rasmussen a fatal dosage of methamphetamine and heroin, then attempted to hide the body after she was found dead in his home.
Millerberg showed little to no emotion as the verdict was read while family members of Rasmussen cried and voiced approval at the conviction.
Millerberg's defense faced incriminating evidence and testimony from friends who were told of the incident and claimed to have helped move Rasmussen's body.
Millerberg's wife, Dea, who is also facing charges of obstruction of justice and desecration of human remains, testified against her husband. Her testimony will not be used in her own case.
County Attorney Dee Smith focused heavily on Rasmussen's young age in the prosecution's closing arguments.
"They say it takes a village to raise a child. Those of you who are parents can probably relate," he said. "We know children are vulnerable. That's why we create laws to protect children."
Smith then recounted of a time Millerberg can be heard on a detective's recorded audio that he avoided Alexis. "I stay away from children, you know what I mean," Millerberg can be heard saying at the time.
"Even he knew she (Rasmussen) was a child," Smith said.
The defense made several statements aiming to discredit Dea Millerberg and police's inmate informants.
"They say the devil is in the details," public defender Randall Marshall said, adding that Dea Millerberg had a selective memory about that night's events. "When I pressed her on (things she didn't remember), she got kind of nasty."
Marshall suggested there was no firm evidence that it wasn't Dea Millerberg who injected Rasmussen and that Eric possibly didn't get involved in the incident until Rasmussen was already dead.
Smith said he was happy with the verdict and that justice was properly served.
Marshall declined to comment on the conviction of his client aside from saying they were disappointed.
The verdict was almost delayed because the defense wanted to obtain online school records that may have indicated Millerberg was busy studying that night at his home, but prosecutors protested. Weber County Deputy Attorney Chris Shaw said the defense had waited far too long to issue a subpoena to the college for online records.
The judge sided with Shaw and said the defense should have known about these records years ago.
Still, an investigation into that evidence was conducted briefly by Shane Minor of the county attorney's office on Thursday and was discussed without a jury present Friday afternoon. Minor's investigation produced no positive indication that Millerberg was logged on to any of Stevens-Henager College's Web pages on the evening police say Rasmussen died.
Another major focus Friday was the medical evidence found in Rasmussen's body. Medical examiner Joseph White was cross-examined multiple times by the defense after testifying he had labeled the cause and manner of Rasmussen's death as "undetermined."
He said he anecdotally felt "use of these drugs is an adequate explanation of death ... and in this case the best explanation."
But, he added, the higher standard of forensic proof couldn't be satisfied if he was being "intellectually honest."
White then said if he knew for a fact that Millerberg had injected Rasmussen, he would be able to definitively attribute the cause of death to the drugs.
"The circumstances are highly suspicious," he said. "And the statements put together a compelling story."
But Marshall challenged that statement, saying that knowing what happened on the night of the alleged homicide would not alter the anatomical evidence available.
Hadley had previously worried about scheduling deliberation for the evening of Valentine's Day. He allowed the jury members to decide among themselves, however, and they opted for immediate deliberation.
Sentencing for Millerberg is scheduled for March 18. Dea Millerberg's trial is expected to begin in April.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Andreas.
Contact reporter Ben Lockhart at 801-625-4221 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Lockhart.