UPDATED: Kamloops man sentenced for savage killing of girlfriend in hotel room | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATED: Kamloops man sentenced for savage killing of girlfriend in hotel room

February 19, 2021 - 4:36 PM

David Miller was given a life sentence without parole for 15 years for killing an Abbotsford woman in a Kamloops hotel.

Miller, 59, was tried and convicted of second degree murder in the August, 2016 death of Debra Novacluse at the Super 8 Motel on Hugh Allan Drive. Novacluse and Miller were neighbours and were having an affair when the slaying took place.

Court heard today Novacluse suffered blunt force trauma and her death was likely a result of a number of different injuries.

She was badly beaten. Her injuries were so extensive, the pathologist in the case said it was the "worst case in her career," Crown Prosecutor Neil Wiberg said.

The prosecution detailed how Miller hid Novacluse's body under a bed before fleeing to Ontario, dumping her belongings in a ditch as he drove to Calgary in Novacluse's vehicle.

But in sentencing, the defence tried to argue it was closer to manslaughter than murder. Jim Heller said Miller had invited people he met in a casino back to his hotel room, only hours before Novacluse's death, suggesting if he planned to beat her to death, he wouldn't "bring people in as witnesses who could clearly identify him.'"

The defence also noted Miller never pleaded guilty to murder, "but acknowledges manslaughter."

But in handing down today's ruling, Madam Justice Marguerite Church said while any calculated intent was never proven, the extent of injuries Novacluse suffered and the savagery of the attack led her to decide a strong condemnation of the offence had to be made, leading to a longer time before a parole board could consider Miller's case.

The prosecution suggested a sentence of 18 to 22 years before eligibility, while the defence wanted 10 to 12.

The judge also said an alleged sexual assault of Novacluse the night of her murder couldn't be connected to her death. If it was found to be part of the offence, it would automatically be first degree murder, which carries a  mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment without parole for 25 years. 

Miller spoke to the court via video conference.

"I apologize to those I've hurt," he said in a slightly lurching speech. "My actions were not by any means intentional. I would turn back time if I could. My pain medication has overrun my way of living."

Heller told court today Miller has suffered from PTSD and chronic pain after being hit by a truck years ago, and also cited depression, alleged extensive abuse at the hands of his father, and that he was unable to return to his career as a truck driver.

"I've always been dependent on myself. I'm learning to reach out but... I'm involved in spiritual, religious programs for four to five years," Miller said. 

Miller called Novacluse's death an accident, said he regretted it, and "again my apologies to those I've hurt - sincerely." 

Justice Church read from a victim impact statement given to her in private by Novacluse's sister. 

"Ms. Novacluse's death had a devastating impact on her family. Her sister... has struggled with her own grief, imagining what her sister must have gone through during her final minutes, her mother's profound grief and a diminishment to her relationship with her mother, which has changed forever. Her sister didn't deserve to leave the world in an such an ugly way. She deals with insomnia and aggravation of emotional turmoil. The family continues to struggle with pain and grief and struggle to come to terms with loss."

This story was updated at 5:16 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, 2021 to include information on a victim impact statement.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Darren Rathwell or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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