Super 8 motel murder trial wraps up in Kamloops court | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Super 8 motel murder trial wraps up in Kamloops court

February 11, 2020 - 3:38 PM


Crown counsel made their closing arguments today in the first-degree murder trial of David Albert Miller.

Miller is accused of killing Debra Novacluse, 52, after her half-naked body was found wrapped in a sleeping bag underneath a blood-stained mattress at a Kamloops Super 8 motel more than three years ago.

Since January, Miller’s trial has been taking place and Crown prosecutors have called witnesses ranging from police officers, forensic investigators, pathologists and a woman who partied with Miller and Novacluse the night before she was found dead.

Today, Feb. 11, Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg presented his closing argument submissions to Justice Marguerite Church in Kamloops Supreme Court.

Wiberg told the court the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt Miller is guilty of first-degree murder. Court heard Miller was renting a room for two nights at the Super 8 motel in Kamloops’s Aberdeen neighbourhood and had invited Novacluse to join him. In his statements to police, Miller described his relationship with Novacluse in several different ways including calling her a friend, and then later saying he was having an affair with her.

Defence lawyer Jim Heller disputes his client committed first-degree murder and says Miller was too impaired to form specific intent to kill Novacluse. Intoxication could reduce the first-degree murder charge to manslaughter, court heard today.

“There is no evidence Mr. Miller meant to kill her,” Heller says.

Wiberg pointed out Miller’s statements to police were not credible and even commented on the numerous different versions he told police regarding the incidents that happened on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27, 2016. Miller told police he accidentally choked Novacluse to death during rough sex. 

An autopsy revealed Novacluse sustained several injuries caused by blunt force trauma and asphyxiation. Pathologist Dr. Lisa Steele says some of the victim’s injuries included broken ribs, extensive bruising and abrasions to her neck and head area and significant injuries to her vagina and anus.

Novacluse’s body was found by cleaning staff on Aug. 27, 2016. Miller was arrested several days later in Ontario.

Wiberg drew attention to video surveillance and testimonies from witnesses that contradict Miller’s defence of intoxication and even described Miller’s cleanup of the crime scene as “done skillfully” and showing almost no signs of impairment. Hotel cleaning staff even testified throughout the trial that on first inspection, the motel room where Novacluse's body was found appeared clean.

Court also heard Miller removed and disposed of certain pieces of evidence in different locations from Kamloops to Calgary, which Wiberg described as Miller having “an operating mind” because he knew he had murdered Novacluse.

“This plan was sophisticated,” Wiberg says.

The Crown also submitted the accused was unlikely to even be at a medium level of intoxication. A toxicology report showed Novacluse was highly intoxicated. The extent of Novacluse’s injuries also showed specific intent, Wiberg says.

“This wasn’t the case of one punch… there were numerous blows,” he says. “The deceased wasn’t a big person, she was 101 pounds.”

Miller's trial is in front of a judge alone with no jury. It is unknown when Justice Church will make a decision on this case.

 For past stories on this case, go here. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 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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