Jury selection underway in Miller trial

(Albuquerque) A panel of 50 prospective jurors convened in State District Court Judge Richard Knowles’ courtroom at 1:30 Monday afternoon as the process of selecting a jury (voix dire) began in the case of State of New Mexico vs. William “Bill” Miller.

When the day began, Mr. Miller was facing five counts of evidence tampering in the Girly Chew Hossencofft murder case. However, during a pre-trial conference Monday morning, one of those charges was dismissed without prejudice (nolle prosequi) and the state may choose to refile the charge at a later date. The dismissed charge had been listed as Count Two against Mr. Miller. In that charge, the state alleged that Mr. Miller attempted to discard a notebook in his possession during his February 12, 2001 arrest at a Wild Oats store in northeast Albuquerque.

Prosecutor Jack Burkhead explained that a witness related to Count Two was not available at this time. For that reason, he agreed that Count Two should be dismissed without prejudice.

Mr. Burkhead, though, seemed intent on having another witness testify regarding a separate tampering charge. He explained that an arrest warrant has been filed for Rick Carlson. The warrant would not land Mr. Carlson in jail, rather it is intended to force him to appear on the witness stand. Mr. Carlson, the prosecutor told the judge, is not cooperating with the state’s request of him to testify.

In a 1999 interview with Albuquerque Police detectives, Mr. Carlson explained that he had known Mr. Miller for about two years. He explained that he was introduced to Mr. Miller at a luncheon group at Minato’s Restaurant on Montgomery where the group discussed topics related to the paranormal.

No doubt, the relevance of many statement made by Mr. Carlson to police in 1999 will be challenged by Mr. Miller’s defense attorney Ray Twohig.

Mr. Miller faces evidence tampering charges. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The tampering charges relate to Mr. Miller’s eating of business cards from his wallet while in custody shortly after his arrest. A police security camera at APD’s northeast substation recorded this moment while Mr. Miller’s hands were cuffed in front of him. The tape is expected to be played in court.

Another tampering charge is connected to a partially burned business card found by police in Mr. Miller’s fireplace.

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