BY STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A Bakersfield servicewoman planned the killings of a couple in Parkland, Wa., but she may not have been in her right mind at the time, according to attorney statements in a military hearing this week at Fort Lewis, Wa.
Following an Article 32 hearing -- the equivalent of a preliminary hearing in California -- Army Specialist Ivette Davila is awaiting recommendations on what charges and possible penalties she will face at a court martial hearing.
Davila, 23, a 2003 graduate of West High School, could face the death penalty in the March 2, 2008, shooting deaths of Timothy Miller, 27, and his wife, Randi MIller, 25, in their Parkland, Wa., home.
She is also charged with kidnapping the couple's 6-month-old baby, Kassidy, who was ultimately released unharmed.
The account of the hearing was reported by the Tacoma News Tribune, whose military reporter, Scott Fontaine, covered the testimony and attorney arguments Monday and Tuesday. His stories provided the following information:
The prosecution said Davila took steps in the two days before the attack to carry out the killings of her friends. The alleged motive is that Davila was upset because she believed Randi Miller was having a romantic relationship with Davila's ex-boyfriend.
"This wasn't a crime of passion," government attorney Capt. Dan Bentson said. "This was a cold, calculated crime."
But when the defense presented its case, it suggested Davila did things and said things that showed she may not have been aware of what she was doing.
"(There are) almost no answers in the area of sanity," defense counsel Maj. Carol Brewer said in her closing arguments. Brewer complained the government interfered with her attempts to fully investigate mitigating circumstances. A second mental examination of Davila was authorized, but never carried out, Brewer said.
The defense, which contended its investigation was limited by Davila being kept in a cell that was not soundproof, did not dispute the basic evidence of how the crime happened. That included:
* Two days before the killings, Davila arranged the availability of a babysitter for the Millers' daughter on the morning of the killings. The babysitter was not used, and instead Davila took the baby with her to a store to get muriatic acid after the couple were dead.
* Davila, a chemical operations specialist, poured the acid on the bodies and then took the baby to her barracks where she told a fellow soldier she would be going to hell for killing the baby's parents.
* Davila spent the morning of the shootings with the Millers at a club in Tacoma. She returned to the Millers' home, where she had previously left a bag with a pistol in it.
* As Timothy Miller was taking a shower, Davila went to Randi MIller's bedroom, shot the woman twice in the head and then beat her.
* She then went to the shower where she shot Timothy MIller four times, walked closer to him and shot him twice more at point-blank range.
The defense said Davila's confessions to a fellow soldier and then to a cellmate at the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma show someone who didn't quite comprehend what she did.
"She called the police and told them she was a horrible person," Brewer said. "She believed she was going to hell. She told them she believed she was possessed and didn't believe what happened."
Davila also reported seeing flashings of light, hearing strange voices and believing people were walking on the roof of her cell. She called the evidence of blood-stained sheets in the case "yucky," peppered letters with childish drawings and had a tendency to zone out, the defense said.
It could take a couple of weeks or more before decisions are made on what charges and possible penalty will be presented at a general court martial.