Army: Soldiers' deaths planned

TACOMA - Spc. Ivette Davila planned the shooting death of two fellow soldiers and the kidnapping of the couple's 7-month-old daughter days before she carried out the attack, government prosecutors said Monday, the first day of the Fort Lewis soldier's Article 32 investigation.

“This wasn’t a crime of passion,” government attorney Capt. Dan Bentson said in his opening statement of the hearing, the military equivalent of a grand-jury investigation. “This was a cold, calculated crime.”

Davila is accused of killing Staff Sgt. Timothy and Sgt. Randi Miller in their Parkland home on March 2, 2008.

The defense, meanwhile, conceded many facts of the case but said the 23-year-old California native hasn’t been given the proper opportunity to mount a defense.

“The defense has never denied what happened that night,” attorney Maj. Carol Brewer said. “But because of many intervening causes, we’ve been unable to get to the real question, which is why.”

Davila faces two counts of premeditated murder, one count of burglary, one count of kidnapping and one count of obstruction of justice.

The investigating officer, Lt. Col. Andrew Efaw, will weigh the testimony and evidence and recommend what charges should be referred to a general court-martial. Brig. Gen. Jeff Mathis, the acting post commander, will review the recommendations and have the final say on the charges.

The government portrayed Davila as someone who carefully planned the killing of two close friends.

Her former roommate, Spc. Laura Hernandez-Quintero, testified that Davila asked her two days before the incident if she was available to baby-sit the Millers’ daughter on the morning of March 2. Davila met friends at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma the evening of March 1 to create an alibi, prosecutors said.

After several hours, she left in a cab, which first took her to her barracks room. She picked up a bag containing the pistol. Taxi driver Mansoor Ahmad testified he drove Davila to the Millers’ home, where she dropped off the bag, and then to Club Silverstone in Tacoma.

Prosecutors said Davila joined the Millers at the club and returned to their house. Later that morning, she entered their bedroom, shot Randi Miller twice in the head and then beat her to death.

She then went to the shower, where she shot Timothy Miller four times, and then walked closer and shot him twice at point-blank range, prosecutors said.

Davila traveled to a nearby Lowe’s, where she purchased muriatic acid . She tried to burn both bodies with acid, said Jennifer Bailey, who said Davila detailed her crime when the two shared a jail cell. The Millers’ baby-sitter, Connie Puentes, received text messages from Randi Miller’s phone apologizing for not calling earlier that morning. Another message said a friend would pick up Kassidy.

Puentes said she received a call from Davila asking for directions so she could pick up the baby.

She planned to drop Kassidy off at an orphanage, prosecutors say. But she first brought the child to the barracks, where a friend, Sgt. Aaron Nelson, offered to carry “lots of baby stuff” from Davila’s car to her room.

He saw Kassidy sitting in Davila’s barracks room; Davila said she was baby-sitting the child.

Davila seemed quiet, Nelson testified, so he asked what was wrong. “She said she hurt people bad, that she was going to hell, that she was going to jail,” said Nelson, now a reservist living in Idaho. “And then she said she shot two people and took their baby.”

He eventually persuaded her to call police. She was arrested that afternoon.

Brewer, in the defense’s opening statement, said Davila never had any criminal problems, no history of violence and had served honorably before the Millers’ deaths.

But Davila, who has been held at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor since her arrest, has been denied an opportunity to travel to Fort Lewis to work on her defense and with various experts assigned to the case, Brewer said.

The defense is expected to present its case today.

Scott Fontaine: 253-320-4758