Maricopa County Attorney responds to questions about Zombie Hunter case

Will not rule out possibility of another delay
When Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell was asked if she would oppose any additional delay, she said it was not her decision to make.
Updated: Sep. 7, 2022 at 5:45 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It’s been 30 years since Angela Brasso was murdered in brutal fashion along the Arizona canal. That was the first of two so-called “canal murders.” Then, it took 22 years for police to arrest a suspect. Now it’s closing in on eight years since that arrest, and the trial has not taken place.

The suspect, Bryan Patrick Miller, remains in custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Miller is charged in the gruesome murders of Brasso, who was 22, and Melanie Bernas, who was 17 at the time of her death. When Miller was a teenager, he was convicted of stabbing a woman near Paradise Valley Mall. He is also suspected in at least one additional murder and at least one additional attack.

The trial delays result from a combination of factors: COVID, suspect mental evaluations, dozens of witness interviews and a slow-moving justice system. “That’s got to be incredibly frustrating for family members, and I’ve talked to them myself over the years. The wait for justice, but the reality is that every case is different,” said Rachel Mitchell, Maricopa County Attorney.

The trial is set to begin on October 3, and there will be no jury. Instead, it is set to be a bench trial, where the judge will decide guilt or innocence. But legal wrangling is still taking place. During the last pre-trial hearing, defense attorneys stated they will argue that Miller is not guilty by reason of insanity.

When asked if she would oppose any additional delay, Mitchell said it was not her decision to make. “It’s not up to me to decide whether a delay or continuance is accepted or not. It’s up to the judge. My attorneys are extremely experienced. This is a very important case. This is a death penalty. And if they feel like the continuance is warranted, then they may go along with it. If they feel like it is not warranted, then they will oppose,” said Mitchell.