Police officer found 'heavily injured' body, court hears in Kamloops motel murder trial

CONTENT ADVISORY

The first police officer on scene at a Kamloops motel after the body of 52-year-old Debra Novacluse was found in a sleeping bag testified today in the first-degree murder trial of her acquaintance, David Albert Miller.

Miller is charged with the first-degree murder of Novacluse and initially took responsibility for her death but pleaded not guilty on Jan. 13. RCMP identified Miller as the person who had rented the room for two nights in August 2016. Miller was arrested days later in Ontario on Sept. 1, 2016.

Court heard today, Jan. 29, former Kamloops Const. Grant Bernier was working a day shift on Aug, 27, 2016, when he was dispatched at approximately 11:30 a.m. to the Super 8 Motel in the city's Aberdeen neighbourhood after hotel cleaning staff found a “suspicious package” underneath a mattress in room 112.

Bernier testified he was given no indication of what the package could be and when he arrived at the motel he located a manager in the lobby. When he walked up to the door of the room, he noticed a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and put on rubber gloves, jokingly thinking the suspicious package may have been a sex toy, he said in his testimony. 

When he walked in the room, Bernier says he noted a bar-style fridge full of alcohol and food beverages. He was told by the motel manager the cleaning lady was trying to strip the bed when she noticed the bed off the frame and on tilt. The police officer says he reached down and felt a human knee wrapped in a sleeping bag. The constable says he decided to give the leg a shake but immediately noticed the individual was stiff and appeared deceased.

“I assumed she had died from physical trauma,” Bernier said during his cross-examination. “The face was heavily injured.”

Bernier also noted blood on the side of the mattress that appeared to have been wiped off. He told the manager they needed to leave the room and called his Staff Sergeant. Bernier said he was in the motel room for a total of five minutes.

Sgt. Tammy Hoffman with the Forensic Identification Unit, also testified about her examination of the room and the deceased female. Hoffman says the female was found with her knees bent and with blood-soaked towels draped around the lower portion of her body.

“She appeared to have trauma in her neck and head area such as swelling, bruising, blood pooling around her mouth area,” Hoffman said, adding the woman was wearing a damaged black lace bra.

More witnesses are expected to testify as the trial continues.


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