Defendant in Alexander Valley slaying won't mount insanity defense

  • Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Medin escorts a man carrying a bag of clothing for Amanda Miller, a resident of the home, from the scene of a homicide along Alexander Valley Road, north of Healdsburg, on Monday, March 9, 2011. Timothy Neuer, 29, was shot late Tuesday night.

Jarrod Miller won't mount an insanity defense in his upcoming trial on charges he shot his sister's boyfriend to death in their Alexander Valley home.

But the 29-year-old with a history of mental health issues could argue he was acting with "diminished capacity" in the March slaying of Timothy Neuer, also 29.

On Friday, District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who is handling the case with another prosecutor, asked Judge Ken Gnoss to appoint a psychiatrist to evaluate Miller before his Jan. 27 trial.

Miller, who had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, recently withdrew his plea following examinations by two doctors. Their findings were not disclosed.

Ravitch told Gnoss she wanted a third opinion "in an abundance of caution" after Miller's lawyer submitted a trial witness list that included two mental health experts.

"That's a very well-reasoned position the DA has taken with that point," Gnoss said from the bench in granting the request and appointing forensic psychiatrist Emily Keram.

Whether the trial actually begins on schedule was unclear. Miller's lawyer, Joe Bisbiglia, filed papers Friday including a motion to suppress evidence from a search.

Bisbiglia had previously alleged prosecutorial misconduct over a jailhouse visit between Miller and his brother that was secretly recorded by detectives with the Sheriff's Office.

Another judge, Arthur Wick, found the claim was without merit.

Miller has been in jail since the March 8 slaying, when Neuer was shot in the living room of the home he shared with Miller's sister.

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