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Accused in murder changes stories as he explains why and how woman was killed

Debra Novacluse, 52, was found dead in a room at the Super 8 Motel in Aberdeen on Aug. 27, 2016. David Miller is charged with first-degree murder and told police he was never with her, then said he was with her, but did not kill her. He then said he killed her in self-defence before claiming the death occurred during rough sex

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story contains graphic material that may not be suitable for all readers.

A Fraser Valley man standing trial for first-degree murder in connection with the 2016 death of a woman found under a mattress in a Kamloops hotel room told police her death was the result of rough sex gone too far.

Debra Novacluse, 52, was found dead in a first-floor room at the Super 8 Motel on Hugh Allan Drive in Aberdeen on Aug. 27, 2016.

David Albert Miller, now 69, was arrested days later in Ontario, about an hour west of Brockville.

For a week, those involved in Miller’s B.C. Supreme Court trial have been watching and listening to recordings made by police in the hours after Miller’s arrest.

In court on Monday, a videotaped interview showed Miller admitting to having caused Novacluse’s death, though he offered a number of explanations that changed under questioning from Kamloops RCMP Sgt. Mark Davidson.

Miller initially denied having ever been with Novacluse in Kamloops. He then said she had been with him, but he denied killing her. Over the course of the interview, Miller eventually admitted he killed Novacluse, wrapped her body in a sleeping bag and hid it beneath the mattress in his hotel room.

Initially, Miller said the death was a result of accidental suffocation. He then said he was acting in self-defence after she attacked him. Later, he told Davidson she died following rough sex.

“She wants you to do things to her,” Davidson said in the video. “You’ve already said your equipment’s not working that great. So what happened? We’ve come this far, man.”

“I realized I choked her too much,” Miller replied.

“It was a lot more than choking, though, right, Dave?” Davidson asked.

“She started bleeding,” Miller replied, noting he then “cleaned up” and left as fast as he could.

Meanwhile, the Super 8 housekeeper who found Novacluse’s body hidden beneath a mattress outlined on Tuesday what she encountered in a first-floor suite on Aug. 27, 2016.

Nun Maya Gurung, testifying through a Nepalese translator, said she found a “do not disturb” sign on the room’s door when she went to clean the room. Following protocol, she notified a front-desk worker and the two entered the suite together.

“The room was quite clean. Even the bed was quite clean,” she said. “I noticed one bed is a little elevated. I talked to this counter guy that this bed seems to be used.”

Gurung said she and her colleague lifted the mattress and found a body hidden beneath it.

“I didn’t see anything but my other fellow, he saw something,” she said. 

“He commented, ‘There is somebody, a dead body here. Let’s get out, let’s get out.’ That’s what he said. ‘Somebody seems to be dead.’”

Crown prosecutor Monica Fras said in her opening statement last week that Novacluse’s body was found beneath a blood-soaked mattress.

Miller had previously told police he travelled to Kamloops in August 2016 after having an argument with his wife at a campsite near Hope. Novacluse had been a friend of Miller’s.

Court has heard Miller fled Kamloops in Novacluse’s vehicle, abandoning it in Calgary before flying to Ontario, where he was arrested by Kamloops Mounties on Sept. 1, 2016.

Miller’s defence lawyer is challenging the voluntariness of the statement he made to police. A voir dire on that issue — a trial within a trial to determine eligibility of evidence — is expected to end early this week.