Jury finds Millerberg guilty in Alexis Rasmussen’s disappearance, death

Posted at 10:44 AM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-14 20:01:04-05

OGDEN -- A jury deliberated about 90 minutes before finding Eric Millerberg guilty in the disappearance and death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen.

The jury found Millerberg guilty of child abuse homicide, obstruction of justice, unlawful sexual conduct and desecration of a corpse. As the four guilty verdicts were read, Alexis' mother, Dawn Miera, sobbed and hugged family members. Millerberg stared straight ahead, showing now emotion.

"He's disappointed," his attorney, Randall Marshall, told reporters as he left the courtroom.

Miera and her family left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said the verdict brought them "closure."

"This is one of those cases that affects the entire community and we do feel that justice is served," Smith said. "We feel he'll be in prison for a long time, which is where he belongs and we're happy about that."

Marshall said he expected Millerberg would appeal the verdicts.

"She was discarded like a piece of trash," Smith told the jury in closing statements, showing them a gruesome picture of Alexis' badly decomposed body.

Miera sobbed as the picture was shown to the jury. One member of the jury looked to be on the verge of tears.

Smith pointed the finger of blame at Millerberg, describing him shooting up the teenage girl with heroin and methamphetamine and "threesomes" between Eric, his wife, Dea, and Alexis. He told the jury the testimony was corroborated by inmate witnesses and Millerberg's own wife, Dea.

Dea Millerberg gave emotional testimony against her husband, speaking about their relationship with Alexis, in the opening day of his trial.

"Ordinary people don't inject little girls with heroin and methamphetamine," Smith said, asking the jury to convict Millerberg on charges of child abuse homicide, obstruction of justice, unlawful sexual conduct and desecration of a corpse.

In his closing statement, defense attorney Randall Marshall blamed Dea Millerberg.

"This is Dea's story. It's all about Dea," he said. "She created this fantastic story to protect herself."

Marshall said there was nothing to corroborate Dea Millerberg's testimony that it was her husband who injected Alexis. He said she cut a "sweet deal" with prosecutors.

"You have to decide how believable Dea is," Marshall said. "What about the sex? Again, Dea's story."Marshall urged the jury not to become a "lynch mob." Smith told the jury to focus on Eric Millerberg."There's only one person on trial here," Smith said. "That's the defendant."

Millerberg was convicted of giving Alexis a lethal combination of heroin and methamphetamine, then engaging in sexual conduct with the teenage girl and his wife, Dea. The teen died, and prosecutors have charged both Eric and Dea Millerberg for dumping the body off I-84 in Morgan County back in 2011.

Her badly decomposed remains were found 38 days later.

On the witness stand, Dr. Joseph White, a Utah State Medical Examiner, testified that it was difficult to identify Alexis' remains. Extremely high levels of methamphetamine, morphine, and amphetamines were found in the girl's remains.

"Death as a result of these drugs is a very adequate explanation," he testified. "Quite honestly, the best explanation."

However, Dr. White could not call Alexis' death a homicide. Rather, he declared it "undetermined."

"It's a foul circumstance and it seems clear that someone else was involved," he testified.

Dr. Douglas Rollins, a pharmacologist/toxicologist, testified that his analysis of Alexis Rasmussen's drug levels indicated that methamphetamine had been ingested "soon before death."

"I am of the opinion it was ingested within hours of the time of death," he told the jury.

The defense put on no witnesses and Millerberg told the judge he would not testify in his own defense. Millerberg faces 5 years-to-life in prison when he is sentenced on March 18.

Smith told FOX 13 outside of court that Dea Millerberg would face trial later this year, but her testimony against her husband could not be used against her under the "use immunity" deal she struck with prosecutors. Smith said they would evaluate if she would be offered a plea deal.