OGDEN, Utah (AP) — It took a Utah jury just two hours to find a man guilty of killing a teenage baby sitter and dumping her body in the woods after prosecutors say he gave her a lethal dose of drugs during a night of sex that also included the man's wife.
Eric Millerberg, 38, faces up to life in prison after being convicted Friday of child abuse homicide, unlawful sexual contact with a minor, obstruction of justice and desecration of a dead body in the 2011 death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen.
Sentencing was set for March 18.
During a three-day trial, prosecutors brought detectives, medical examiners, prisoners and Millerberg's wife, Dea Millerberg, to the stand to show that he recklessly injected Rasmussen with lethal doses of heroin and methamphetamine.
Prosecutors told jurors that Eric Millerberg and his wife then dumped Rasmussen's body in the woods of northern Utah and lied to police as the girl's mother desperately searched for her for more than a month.
Dea Millerberg, 40, is awaiting her own trial in April on charges of desecration of a body. She testified against her husband.
Family and friends of Rasmussen cried when the verdict was read. It was emotional for family and friends that dearly miss Rasmussen and have been waiting more than two years for this day, said Scott Rudd, the victim's uncle.
"We are extremely thrilled about it. It helps with a little closure," Rudd said. "But the fact of the matter is we still don't have Lexi."
Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said the case hit home not only with Rasmussen's family and friends, but police officers and prosecutors who worked the case since she went missing. The teenager was missing for 38 days until her body was found.
The verdict showed the jury had little doubt about Eric Millerberg's guilt, Smith said.
"It's not going to change what happened, it's not going to bring her back," Smith said. "But it's important for the family to know the person responsible is being held accountable and will spend a significant time in prison."
Eric Millerberg's attorney, Randall Marshall, told reporters his client was disappointed. Marshall said he expected guilty verdicts on some charges, "but I was a little disappointed in some of it."
Smith had started his closing argument Friday by showing the jury a picture of a smiling Rasmussen holding her little sister about one year before her death. Then, he showed a picture of her dead body covered by a muddy piece of foam in the woods of northern Utah.
Smith said the Millerbergs dumped her there, "discarded like a piece of trash," and then lied to police for more than a month about her whereabouts.
Smith called Eric Millerberg's actions with Rasmussen deplorable, saying he had supplied her with drugs and had sex on previous occasions as well, later bragging to fellow prisoners that he partied with teenage girls. Smith reminded the jury that laws exist to protect teens who are prone to experimenting and making mistakes when they aren't with their parents.
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