Crime • Lawyer points to the popularity of the teenager his client is charged with slaying.
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Ogden • Pretrial publicity, the size of Weber County, and the "popularity" of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen has prompted an attorney for Eric Millerberg, charged with child abuse homicide in the teen's death, to ask for a change of venue.
Defense attorney Randall Marshall indicated in December that he would file a motion asking for Millerberg's trial to be held in a different county, but didn't do so until March 22. Oral arguments about the venue change were scheduled for Tuesday, but were delayed until May 8 so prosecutors could respond.
In the motion, Marshall asks for a trial to be held in Summit or Salt Lake counties instead of Weber County, which he said became more close-knit after Rasmussen was reported missing in September 2011.
"While Weber County has a fairly large population, the publicity and notoriety of this case and its victim created the effect of a close, small community because of the amount of newspaper and television coverage," Marshall wrote. "It seems that everyone knows someone who knew 'Lexi' or her mother or someone involved in this story."
Marshall's argument about pretrial publicity is centered on coverage of the case in the Standard-Examiner, the local newspaper for Weber County. According to the motion, 56 articles have been written about Rasmussen, and at least 34 mentioned Millerberg, whom Marshall noted in the motion has a prison history and tattoos covering much of his hands, arms and head – tattoos that have been the subject of at least one article in the Ogden newspaper.
Millerberg, 37, is charged in 2nd District Court with first-degree felony child abuse homicide in Rasmussen's 2011 death, along with felony counts of obstructing justice, desecrating a body and having unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
A six-day trial is set for July 22. Millerberg's wife, Dea Millerberg, 39, is charged with desecration of a human body related to the girl's death.
No trial date has been set for Dea Millerberg.
Dea Millerberg testified in April at her husband's preliminary hearing that he injected a fatal mix of heroin and methamphetamine into the teen and that the couple, in a panic, then dumped the girl's body in a remote part of Morgan County.