A Nevada County Superior Court judge found sufficient evidence to hold a man to answer on charges of attempted murder, criminal threats, dissuading witnesses, spousal abuse and false imprisonment in a domestic violence incident dating back to November.
After the preliminary hearing into that evidence Thursday, however, Judge Candace Heidelberger cautioned that there might be issues with proving the attempted murder charge at trial.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow indicated she might amend the complaint against Jeffrey Miller, who is set to be formally arraigned May 9.
Ow noted prior to the hearing that Miller had been offered a plea agreement of 180 days in jail and three years supervised probation if he pleaded no contest to one count of either spousal abuse, criminal threats or dissuading a witness.
That offer was withdrawn, however, she said.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputy Philip Dix testified that he had responded to a report of an assault on Bear Ridge Road on Nov. 23, and that the female victim told him that Miller had choked her with two hands wrapped around her throat, to the point where she could not breathe.
The woman told him the attack lasted for about a minute until Miller’s mother knocked him off of her. She told Dix that while Miller was strangling her, he was telling her he was going to kill her.
According to Dix, the woman said Miller pushed her into a vehicle, threw her down and slapped her in the face.
Miller then reportedly pushed her into the house and into a bedroom, where he hit her in the back of the head and refused to let her leave the room.
Miller eventually let her go to the bathroom when she began vomiting, the woman told Dix.
The victim said she tried to leave twice, running down the driveway, but that Miller “chased her down,” Dix testified.
Miller’s mother reportedly gave a similar account, telling Dix she saw him smash the woman’s phone. It was not completely clear from his testimony as to whether Miller threatened to kill both women if they called law enforcement.
His mother reportedly later told Dix that she believed the alleged victim overreacted and was not in fear of Miller; Deputy Public Defender Keri Klein noted the couple has gotten married since then.
Klein argued that given the victim’s petite size and frail health, her relatively minor injuries did not support a charge of attempted murder.
Heidelberger did find enough evidence for the six counts for the purposes of the preliminary hearing, although she noted the evidence for the charges of dissuading a witness was a little ambiguous.
Ow then argued that Miller continue to be held without bail, telling Heidelberger that Miller had an escalating history of violence, specifically relating to domestic violence and violating court orders.
She acknowledged that the victim had married Miller, saying, “She needs protection; she is not going to protect herself.”
Klein said there have been no further incidents since November and added that the victim was not interested in proceeding with the case.
“One of my concerns is that Mr. Miller is clearly agitated and unhappy,” Heidelberger said, referring to an earlier outburst by Miller that temporarily halted the hearing.
“That could result in some anger being put toward (the victim).”
Heidelberger set Miller’s bail at $1 million. He is set to return to court May 9.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229