The jurors in the David Miller murder trial began deliberations Monday afternoon, after the State rested its case and the defense did not offer any witnesses.
The only statement jurors heard from the defense in the case was the closing statement by public defender Aaron Hawbaker, in which he claimed that a “delusional and possibly drug-induced” state of mind led David Miller to flee his house in panic after discovering that his girlfriend, Sabrina Janish, had been murdered.
Hawbaker told the jury that prosecutors offered no motive, no reason why Miller would kill Janish, who had indicated to her mother two days earlier how happy she was to make a “new start” with Miller.
The defense also claimed that the local and state law enforcement officials suffered from “investigative bias,” focusing on Miller and not considering other possible suspects, including David Janish, the estranged husband of Sabrina, or his known associates. (David Janish was in jail in Linn County when the murder took place.)
Hawbaker also pointed out that the DCI lab in Ankeny did not test all samples investigators had collected, including hair found in the victim’s hand, or a cigarette butt found along the blood trail that led from the house to where a pickup truck was stolen.
Throughout last week, Benton County Attorney David Thompson had presented evidence and several witnesses as he attempted to prove to the jury that Miller, after killing Janish, fled the trailer house on foot and stole two trucks as he made his way to Pleasant Creek Park. Blood identified as Miller’s was found on both trucks, which had been reported stolen the day of the murder. Justin Varner testified how he was awaken around 3:40 a.m. to the sound of his 1977 pick-up starting. He hurried outside to see Miller, whom he identified during his testimony, driving way, with blood visible on his left arm. Varner was later among a group of people who saw the blood trail leading to Janish’s body.
Thompson summarized the evidence in his closing statement. In the rebuttal after Hawbaker’s final argument, Thompson told the jury that a photo of Sabrina’s body indicates the hair in her hands was her own. He also reminded jurors that no other person’s DNA showed up in any of the tests of blood spots, and that “the only shoe in the world” that could have left a bloody print at the crime scene was found at the nearby Pleasant Creek Park lake, where the boots found in the mud contained blood DNA from both Janish and Miller.
The jurors began their deliberations around 4 p.m. Monday and will continue this morning.
See the story about the testimony of last week’s witnesses HERE.