Driver arrested with severed head in vehicle was just hapless car thief, lawyer says – Orange County Register
A driver who was arrested after Las Vegas police found a severed head and other body parts in his van was just an unlucky thief who stole the wrong vehicle, his lawyer said.
However, prosecutors say Eric Holland, 57, killed the man who was found dismembered in the truck.
A hearing on Tuesday determined he would be charged with murder and held without bail.
The events leading up to Holland’s arrest began with an attempted traffic stop on the afternoon of December 23 on Tropicana Avenue in the Spring Valley neighborhood. A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer stopped a Toyota Tundra truck after a license check showed its registration was suspended. The driver first stopped and then drove off, according to the police report.
Officers followed the truck for about three miles and saw it enter a parking lot next to the Rio hotel and casino. Shortly after, another truck, a Chevrolet Avalanche, came out of the garage.
Believing it to be the same driver, police followed the Chevy truck a further three kilometers until it pulled up to an apartment complex near the Orleans Casino.
There, Holland came out and repeatedly ignored orders from the police, according to court documents. When he tried to escape, he was stunned by a Taser gun and taken into custody, police said.
After Holland was taken into custody, police discovered that the two trucks had been reported stolen – the Chevrolet from Santa Clara County in California.
While searching the Chevrolet, police found a black plastic garbage bag that gave off “a foul odor.” There was a severed head inside, according to the complaint. The coolers would have contained “two human legs” and “an apparent human torso”.
The Clark County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Richard P. Miller, 65, of Las Vegas. The coroner’s office ruled that the death was homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds.
A lawyer from Holland, P. David Westbrook, said his client stole the truck from the garage near the Rio without knowing what was in it. He pointed out that the truck bed was covered and the coolers were sealed.
“In order to presume that Mr. Holland had prior knowledge of the contents of this truck, you must also believe that he intentionally drove the police towards the body,” Westbrook said. âThe question is: why would he do this?
Prosecutors claim Miller was an acquaintance of Holland and that Holland was filmed at a Home Depot buying a saw and plastic bags, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Holland’s next court appearance in this case is scheduled for Jan. 27, according to Westbrook and court documents.
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