Millerberg goes on trial in Alexis Rasmussen’s death

Posted at 1:25 PM, Feb 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-12 19:58:21-05

OGDEN -- A man accused of injecting his children's babysitter with a lethal combination of heroin and methamphetamine, then dumping her body in Morgan County, is now on trial.

Eric Millerberg is facing charges of child abuse homicide, obstruction of justice, unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old, and desecration of a human body in the September 11, 2011 death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen.

"She died at his hands, in his home," deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Shaw told the five man, five woman jury, pointing at Millerberg. "He dumped her there."

Members of the jury appeared visibly upset as Shaw described how Alexis was at the Millerberg home to babysit their children, "but that's not what happened." Shaw alleged that Eric Millerberg, his wife, and Alexis engaged in "sexual conduct" and was injected with a mixture of heroin and methamphetamine.

After claiming she felt cold and wanted to take a bath, Shaw told the jury, Alexis could not get out of the tub. Prosecutors said the girl was taken out of the tub, wrapped in a blanket and left in the room.

When the Millerbergs came back, Shaw told the jury, Alexis was dead.

"She's gone," he said.

Instead of summoning for help, Shaw claimed Millerberg asked his wife to help him dump the body. Alexis was stuffed in a foot locker and put in their car, Shaw said. The Millerbergs took their infant child, leaving their 6-year-old at home, and drove around to find a place to dump the body, he said in opening statements.

Alexis Rasmussen's badly decomposed body was found 38 days later, hidden in brush off the Taggart exit in Morgan County.

In her testimony, Alexis' mother, Dawn Miera, tearfully described the panic in trying to find her daughter when she didn't return when she said she would.

"I drove over to the Millerberg house," Miera said. "I was trying to call her at the same time."

No one was home at first. Hours later, Miera returned and Eric Millerberg answered the door.

"I asked him, 'Where's Lexi?'" she testified. "He says, 'She left like at 10.' No she didn't. His pupils were so dilated I couldn't even tell what color his eyes were."

Millerberg was "out of it," Miera testified. The conversation was "all over the place."

"I was really upset because it had nothing to do with... I wanted to know where my daughter was!" she said, her voice choking with emotion on the witness stand.

Miera said she pushed her way into the home and demanded to talk to Dea Millerberg, who said Alexis left at 10:30 p.m. Miera testified that she last spoke to her daughter at 11:30 p.m., when she sent a text asking to stay overnight at the Millerberg home.

"I was already panicked," Miera said. "I realized what kid of situation my daughter was in, what kind of people she was with. I had never met him before."

Miera testified that during the month her daughter was missing, Eric Millerberg called her once to complain that she was "upsetting" his wife, Dea. He insisted to her he was cooperating with police.

"He was trying to intimidate me," she said.

In their opening statements, the defense told the jury not to become a "lynch mob looking to make someone pay."

"There was a terrible tragedy. A 16-year-old girl is dead," said defense attorney Randy Marshall. "But that doesn't make Eric Millerberg guilty of anything."

He suggested Dea Millerberg has motive to lie.

On the witness stand Wednesday afternoon, Dea Millerberg said she decided to tell police what happened for Alexis' family.

"It was time and I just didn't want her family to keep going through this, not knowing where she was," she said.

Dea Millerberg described the night Alexis came over to babysit the children. Eric asked if they wanted to get high. Dea told the jury they injected heroin that evening, then she took the girl to a Layton Walgreen's to pick up a prescription. When they returned, they injected methamphetamine and the three of them had sexual contact.

After more methamphetamine, Dea Millerberg testified, Alexis complained of feeling cold and wanting to take a bath. She said the girl did not look well. They later pulled her out of the tub, wrapped her in a blanket and put her on the bed. When they went to check on her, Dea Millerberg testified, the girl had no pulse.

It was her husband, she said, who did not want her to call 911.

"He said, 'I'll go to jail. They'll give me the death penalty,'" Dea testified.

Dea Millerberg sobbed as she described wrapping Alexis in a blanket, stuffing her body in a foot locker and putting it in their car. They drove throughout the night before finally dumping her body off I-84 in Morgan County.

"We washed the car and vacuumed it," she testified. "Trying to get rid of any evidence."

Marshall tried to chip away at Dea Millerberg's testimony under cross-examination, portraying her as a liar. Earlier in the day, Marshall attempted to invoke spousal privilege to prevent her testimony.

The judge ruled against him, allowing her to testify.

Weber County prosecutors gave her "use immunity" for her testimony, meaning her statements cannot be used in the criminal case proceeding against her.