A man convicted of sexually attacking and fatally stabbing two young Phoenix women in separate killings in the early 1990s was sentenced to death by a judge Wednesday.
as the “Zombie Hunter” — was convicted in April on two counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted sexual assault.— who referred to himself
He had waived his right to a jury trial and Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Cohen found Miller guilty of killing Angela Brosso in November 1992 on the eve of her 22nd birthday and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas in September 1993.
The judge also ruled in April that Miller was eligible for the death penalty.
Miller, 50, did not testify in the double murder trial that began in early October 2022 andby reason of insanity.
Brosso and Bernas both disappeared while riding their bicycles along the Arizona Canal in north Phoenix, according to authorities.
Police believe the killer knocked Brasso off her bicycle, stabbed her and dragged her off the trail. Her naked body was found decapitated near a bike trail.
“With his actions on that night, he murdered my angel, he ripped my heart, and I will never, ever be the same,” said Linda Brosso, Angela’s mother, according to CBS affiliate KPHO-TV.
Ten months after Brosso’s death, police said Bernas’ body was discovered floating in the canal. Bernas was not decapitated, but her bicycle was missing.
“Words cannot begin to explain the level of excruciating pain we experience every single day since her murder,” Burnas’ sister, Jill Canetta, said in court, according to KPHO-TV. “We live without her smile, her hugs, her companionship. We live without her love.”
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Authorities said DNA evidence collected in the aftermath of both crimes showed the attacks were linked to the same suspect and Miller was arrested for the murders in January 2015.
According to police, Miller denied any involvement although he acknowledged living in the vicinity of the killings at the time and said he rode his bike on paths in the area.
It took years before Miller was found mentally competent to stand trial.
In the trial’s sentencing phase, Miller’s attorneys pleaded with Cohen to show mercy and give him life in prison.
But prosecutors said he deserved the death penalty and the murders of the two women were especially brutal, driven by Miller’s sexual sadism.
“The defendant did not just murder them. He brutalized them and he evaded capture for over 20 years,” Cohen said.
During the sentencing phase, Miller spoke in court for the first time, KPHO-TV reported.
“I am not looking for sympathy today,” he said on May 22. “This time is for the family and the friends of the victims. I cannot imagine what pain they have endured for all these years.”