The Utah Court of Appeals rejected a North Ogden man's claims that his attorney failed him as he faced allegations at trial that he had given his teenage babysitter a lethal dose of drugs, then hid her body.
Eric Millerberg, now 42, is currently serving a sentence of at least six years and up to life in prison for the death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen.
In a decision handed down Friday, the appellate court denied Millerberg's arguments, upholding his conviction.
In September 2011, Alexis had gone to the Millerbergs' home on the pretense of babysitting for the couple, but instead joined them in doing drugs, drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual activity.
Millerberg was found guilty of injecting Alexis with a deadly amount of methamphetamine and heroin. Rather than calling 911 when the girl overdosed, Millerberg convinced his wife, Dea Millerberg, to help him load the teen's body in his truck so that it could be disposed of. Alexis' body was found 38 days later in Morgan County.
In his appeal, Millerberg claimed that his attorney didn't sufficiently argue for his jury trial to be moved out of Ogden in light of media coverage "portraying him in a negative light and disclosing inappropriate details regarding his criminal history, gang affiliations, and parole status."
Millerberg had also claimed the attorney didn't properly vet whether jurors had been influenced by reporting on the case.
The court found that Millerberg presented no evidence that any jurors had been influenced by the news stories.
"In fact," the decision notes, "even the jurors who had some exposure to the media coverage indicated at voir dire that they could be impartial."
The appellate court also rejected Millerberg's claims that his attorney should have sought out evidence that he was on his computer when Alexis overdosed, meaning his wife was responsible for the crime.
The court went on to find there is no basis for Eric Millerberg's claims that evidence was insufficient to prove he administered the drugs and that an overdose killed Alexis. The decision points to Dea Millerberg's testimony that she watched as her husband injected Alexis with drugs, and to a medical examiner's findings about the amount of drugs that remained in the teen's decomposed body.
Eric Millerberg was found guilty by a jury in February 2014 of child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony; obstructing justice, a second-degree felony; and unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and abuse or desecration of a human body, third-degree felonies.
In an agreement with prosecutors, Dea Millerberg pleaded guilty in June 2014 to obstructing justice, illegally acquiring prescription drugs and desecration of a dead body, third-degree felonies. She was ordered to spend up to five years in prison.
In February 2017 the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole denied Dea Millerberg's request to be released from prison. She is expected to remain behind bars until Aug. 20, 2019.
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