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Change of venue denied for Utah man accused of killing teen

Published May 10, 2013 6:50 am

Courts • Judge rules Eric Millerberg will stand trial for murder in Weber County.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Eric Millerberg — accused in the 2011 death of his children's 16-year-old babysitter — has been denied a change of venue for his upcoming murder trial.

Millerberg's attorneys wanted the trial moved to Summit or Salt Lake county, arguing that pre-trial publicity about the case will make it impossible for Millerberg to get a fair trial in Weber County.

But 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley this week denied the request and said jury selection will begin on July 23 — in his Ogden courtroom.

Millerberg, 37, of North Ogden, is charged with first-degree felony child abuse homicide in the September 2011 death of Alexis "Lexi" Rasmussen.

He also is charged with felony counts of obstructing justice, desecrating a body and having unlawful sexual activity with a minor,

Millerberg's wife, Dea Millerberg, 39, is charged with desecration of a human body related to the girl's death.

No trial date has been set for Dea Millerberg.

Dea Millerberg testified last April at her husband's preliminary hearing that he injected a fatal mix of heroin and methamphetamine into the teen and that the couple, in a panic, then dumped the girl's body in a remote part of Morgan County.

Eric Millerberg's defense attorneys, argued in a written motion that an impartial jury cannot be seated in Weber County. They noted that while the county has a "fairly large population," the publicity and notoriety of the case "created the effect of a close, small community ..."

"It seems that everybody knows someone who knew "Lexi" or her mother or someone involved in this story," defense attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors countered that a written jury questionnaire will allow the judge to eliminate any biased jurors.

If the questionnaire show there is "overwhelming hostility" toward Millerberg, a change of venue can then be reconsidered, prosecutors said in a written response to the defense motion.

shunt@sltrib.com