By Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week
A Fraser Valley man who murdered his girlfriend in a Kamloops motel suite in 2016 will have to wait until at least mid-October to learn how long he will spend behind bars.
David Miller was found guilty in July of second-degree murder. He killed Debra Novacluse in a suite at the Super 8 motel on Hugh Allan Drive in Aberdeen more than four years ago.
Novacluse, 52, was found dead by motel staff on Aug. 27, 2020. Miller, 69, was arrested days later in Ontario and has been in custody since.
Court heard Miller and Novacluse were visiting Kamloops from Abbotsford in the summer of 2016. After he was arrested, Miller told police he was responsible for Novacluse’s death, but claimed the slaying was the result of accidental asphyxiation or rough sex gone too far.
A forensic pathologist testified Novacluse’s cause of death could have been either asphyxiation or blunt-force trauma.
At trial, defence lawyer Jim Heller argued Miller was too drunk to form intent and therefore could not be found guilty of murder.
Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg, however, pointed to a video shot outside Cascades Casino — located within walking distance of the Super 8 motel — in the hours leading up to the murder showing an excited Miller 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 testified he found Novacluse’s purse in a ditch near Sicamous.
Miller had been charged with first-degree murder because the Crown argued Novacluse’s death was part of a sexual assault. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church said she was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that was the case. She found Miller guilty of the lesser included charge of second-degree murder.
Second-degree murder carries with it an automatic life sentence, but it will be up to Church to determine a period of parole ineligibility, the minimum being 10 years and the maximum being 25 years.
In court on Monday, defence lawyer Jim Heller said the author of a pre-sentence report told him sentencing could be set for any date after Oct. 19.
Lawyers will return to court next week to set a date for a one-day sentencing hearing.