A Fraser Valley man accused of first-degree murder following the death of his girlfriend in a Kamloops hotel suite deliberately killed her and then developed a “sophisticated” plan to cover up the crime, a judge has been told.
On Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops, lawyers began closing arguments in David Miller’s first-degree murder trial, which is being held before a judge alone, with no jury.
Debra Novacluse, 52, was found dead by staff at the Super 8 Motel in Aberdeen on Aug. 27, 2016. Miller, now 69, was arrested days later in Ontario and has since been in custody.
Court has heard Miller and Novacluse were visiting Kamloops from the Fraser Valley at the time of her death. Following his arrest, Miller admitted to having been responsible for Novacluse’s death, but offered a number of defences, including accidental asphyxiation and rough sex gone too far.
Defence lawyer Jim Heller has suggested Miller was too drunk to form intent and therefore cannot be guilty of murder.
But Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg, in his closing submissions, pointed to Miller’s actions on video surveillance and in a Facebook Live video taken hours before Novacluse was killed. Wiberg said the videos do not show a drunk man.
Instead, Wiberg said, the videos show “a man full of energy and able to perform complex tasks with no impairment of his motor skills.”
The video shows Miller at the Cascades Casino, located across Hugh Allan Drive from the motel, bragging about how much money he had.
Wiberg also highlighted the fact Miller told police he discarded Novacluse’s belongings at various points along the highway while driving from Kamloops to Calgary after she died. A police officer earlier testified he found Novacluse’s purse in a ditch near Sicamous.
“He didn’t just go to the garbage dumpster at the back of the hotel,” Wiberg said. “Not only did he have foresight, but he developed a plan that I would submit was sophisticated. … The murder was not done in a moment of rage. It took time to inflict the injuries.”
Court has previously heard Novacluse was beaten to death. The forensic pathologist who performed her autopsy said her cause of death could have been asphyxiation or blunt-force trauma to the head.
It is not known when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church will deliver a verdict.