After spending nearly one year in jail, a man accused of stabbing a Eureka woman to death in 2002 was released Tuesday following his acquittal.
The jury serving on the case of Joseph Eugene Miller, 43, began deliberations Tuesday morning to decide whether Miller was guilty of murder in the death of Beverly Jean Jacob, 46. Miller was arrested May 19, 2011.
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said it took the jury less than three hours Tuesday to acquit Miller.
”They thought there was reasonable doubt,” Gallegos said.
On his own. No slam dunk.
◼ Humboldt jury acquits Miller of murder
◼ DA: DNA key evidence in 10-year-old murder case; defense in Miller trial says investigation haphazard in closing arguments Monday
While prosecutors of a 2002 murder case argued Monday that the man accused of stabbing a woman to death in Eureka is guilty because of DNA evidence, the defense points to a “haphazard investigation.”◼ Cold case heads to trial; jury selection under way in 2002 murder case - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said the process of selecting a jury to hear Miller's trial began Monday, but he declined to comment further on the case.>
◼ Man arrested in connection with 2002 murder; officials say DNA 'cold hit' reopened stabbing death case - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard 5/20/2011
For five years, the identity of Jacob's murderer remained a mystery. Her file grew cold in the
Eureka Police Department, but in 2007 a DNA “cold hit” warmed the case up. The hit, obtained by a criminalist from the Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services, revealed Miller's DNA on an item of clothing worn by Jacob at the time of her death, officials said.
According to the Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Sciences, or BFS, a “cold hit,” like the one used to implicate Miller, occurs once every day in California. According to the BFS, “A hit occurs when DNA evidence from an unsolved crime sample matches a DNA profile from evidence in another case or an offender's DNA profile in the CAL-DNA Convicted Felons database.”
The DNA evidence prompted a comprehensive investigation by the EPD and BII, which led to Miller's eventual arrest.
“The lab results opened the door for further investigation,” O'Neill said. “Homicide cases are never closed until we find an answer.”