An Abbotsford man accused of murdering his girlfriend in a Kamloops hotel in 2016 was literally “throwing money around” at the nearby casino in the hours before the slaying while inviting strangers to party in his suite, a judge has been told.
Debra Novacluse, 52, was found dead in a first-floor room at the Super 8 Motel in Aberdeen on Aug. 27, 2016. David Miller, now 69, was arrested days later in Ontario and is now standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on one count of first-degree murder.
Since his trial began more than two weeks ago, court has heard multiple mentions of a “girl with pink hair” who was in the suite prior to Novacluse’s death.
She testified on Thursday.
Jessica Roth said she met Miller at Cascades Casino on Aug. 26, 2016.
“He wore a cowboy hat and he was throwing money around,” she said. “I picked up $100 that he threw.”
Roth streamed a 14-minute Facebook Live video outside the casino with Miller. The video, which was played in court, shows a gregarious Miller talking to a number of people and bragging about how much money he had.
“Three-hundred-dollar Raybans,” he said at the start of the video, putting on his sunglasses. “Polarized.”
In the video, Roth started talking about Miller: “This is the guy who gave me $100. He just threw it on the ground because he’s a baller.”
Miller then began asking Roth to join him at the Super 8.
“Free drinks at the Super 8, Room 112,” he said.
“It’s a smoking room and it’s a double-bedded room. I already pre-approved it with the manager. He’s coming over for a drink. And there’s free taxis and valet on me.”
Though she protested in the video, Roth told court she eventually agreed to go to Miller’s hotel room. She took a male friend with her.
“There was a whole bunch of alcohol on the dresser or the counter or whatever,” she said of the suite.
“One bed was made up. There was a woman in bed, but she didn’t look like she was up to partying that night. She looked like she had been crying.”
Roth said the woman, who she called “Debbie,” was polite.
“He got her up and she got her game face on,” she said. “We clicked right away. I was there for five hours or so, but in that five hours you’d think I’d known her my whole life.”
According to Roth, Novacluse became emotional at times.
“It was very sad,” she said. “
And then it would be, like, cheery. She was really distraught. She missed her husband. And, um, you could tell that there was some sort of abuse going on between her and David. It was like, they’d be OK and then they wouldn’t be OK.”
Roth said she asked Novacluse if she wanted to leave with her. Novacluse declined.
“In the five hours I was there, there was aggression between them,” Roth said. “There was foul language, there was laughing, there was crying. I didn’t want to leave her.”
“Who was left in the room when you left?” Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg asked.
“David and Debra,” Roth replied.
“Would you recognize Mr. Miller if you saw him again? Do you see him in the courtroom?” Wiberg asked.
“He’s right there,” Roth told court, pointing at Miller. “He’s the one in all red.”
Court has heard Miller admitted to police he killed Novacluse, but said it was an accident and then that it was the result of rough sex gone too far.
The trial is scheduled to conclude in mid-February.