Michael Miller makes his first appearance in court Tuesday in Santa Cruz where he is being held without bail on suspicion of murdering Dominic Mower and shooting a woman.
(Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
SANTA CRUZ — The man accused of killing one man and seriously injuring a woman in a July 25 shooting at a ramshackle Watsonville building appeared in court Tuesday, where his arraignment was postponed until next week.
Michael Neal Miller, 34, of Watsonville, is expected to enter a plea when he returns to court on Aug. 7.
Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Johanna Schonfield told Superior Court Judge Robert O’Farrell that the Santa Cruz County Public Defenders office is currently representing the female victim in an unrelated case, which could cause a conflict of interest if a public defender also represents Miller.
Miller faces 90 years to life in prison for charges that include first-degree murder, attempted murder, burglary, robbery and a probation violation, Schonfield said.
Schonfield said the female victim helped police identify Miller.
“She has identified him,” she said.
Miller has prior felony offenses on drug-related charges, so he also faces enhancements for allegedly using a gun, Schonfield said.
She declined to comment on a motive for the alleged crime, what the suspect may have been after in the robbery and burglary or the suspect’s relationship to the victims. Schonfield did, however, describe the case as strong.
On July 25, Watsonville police responded to a report of a woman who had been shot on Prospect Street at 3:05 a.m. after she showed up at a resident’s front door pleading for help. A blood trail led police to Dominic Mower, 37, who was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds inside an abandoned building at 200 Prospect St.
WPD detectives received information from various sources, including community members that focused the investigation on Miller as the primary suspect.
He was arrested without incident the next day on the 500 block of Argos Circle in Watsonville.
The female victim was hospitalized in a Bay Area hospital and has been working with investigators, police say.
Detectives served a search warrant at Miller’s residence and also seized three vehicles from the building on Prospect Street.
Police say they found several items of evidence that link Miller to the crimes, including a firearm believed to be the murder weapon.
Miller was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail on murder, attempted murder, and gun enhancements. He has no bail and is expected in court as early as Tuesday morning.
Police have not named a motive, but have said that they believe Mower was specifically targeted, and that the incident was not gang-motivated.
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