Miller found guilty in fatal attack on girlfriend

The jury convicted David Miller of lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter

David C. Miller (right) stands with his attorney Aaron Hawbaker as they wait for the jury to be seated during his murder trial in Benton County District Court at the Benton County Courthouse in Vinton, Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Miller is on trial for the first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing and strangulation of his girlfriend, Sabrina Hustad Janish, at his rural Shellsburg mobile home in late October 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
David C. Miller (right) stands with his attorney Aaron Hawbaker as they wait for the jury to be seated during his murder trial in Benton County District Court at the Benton County Courthouse in Vinton, Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Miller is on trial for the first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing and strangulation of his girlfriend, Sabrina Hustad Janish, at his rural Shellsburg mobile home in late October 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

VINTON — A Benton County jury Wednesday found David Miller guilty of lesser charges in the fatal stabbing and strangling of his girlfriend last October.

After deliberating a day and a half, the jury found Miller, 32, guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Sabrina Hustad Janish, and two counts of second-degree theft for stealing two vehicles in his attempt to escape on Oct. 25.

Miller had been charged with first-degree murder and the theft charges.

Miller faces 10 years on the manslaughter charge and five years each on the theft charges. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

In his closing argument Monday, Benton County Attorney David Thompson said there is no mistake that a struggle and attack took place in the living room area of Miller’s mobile home at 3257 59th Street Trail, north of Shellsburg. Furniture was knocked over and there also was a large amount of blood in center of the sofa, where the stabbing likely started and then continued on the floor, where a knife was found in a pool of blood underneath a large pillow, Thompson said.

The blood in the living room was Janish’s and her blood was found on Miller’s clothing and boots, Thompson said. Janish’s body was found face down by the front steps of the mobile home, and blood was spattered on a van and truck parked near those steps. The blood was from Miller and Janish, he added.

A medical examiner said Janish was stabbed multiple times in the face, neck and torso, and two of the stab wounds were so deep that they severed the esophagus and trachea, Thompson said. Janish was also strangled, but the medical examiner couldn’t say if the strangulation happened first or after the stabbing.

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Aaron Hawbaker, Miller’s lawyer, argued the state couldn’t say when Janish died, and there’s no evidence to explain the killing.

“There’s no motive ... no why,” Hawbaker argued. “There’s no proof Miller was in the home when the (assault) happened.”

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