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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.
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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.