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Johnstown man accused of stabbing, killing girlfriend headed to trial
By Maria Miller
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in early August is heading to trial. The attorney for Demetrius Gibson said Tuesday that his client may not have actually killed her, or if he did, it wasn't on purpose.
Gibson was led out of court in handcuffs after his preliminary hearing on Tuesday and taken back to the Cambria County Prison. It's been nearly three months since police say he stabbed and killed his girlfriend, Elizabeth Miller, at the Dollar Carwash in Moxham.
"There was one stab wound. I don't know if that occurs during a struggle, I mean obviously we have some theories of our own that I can't share here today, but I just don't know how you find a first-degree killing out of this," said Gibson's defense attorney Thomas Dickey after the hearing.
There was emotional testimony from the victim's brother, who said he was at the couple's Tirehill apartment earlier in the evening and witnessed Miller and Gibson fighting several times, punching each other. At one point, he said, Gibson threatened them both with a knife, prompting them to run out the door and drive away.
But shortly afterward, Miller's brother said they arranged to meet Gibson at the car wash to retrieve her cellphone. He said it wasn't long though before he heard his sister screaming. When he went to help he said he watched Gibson take a knife and stab Miller in the back before driving off.
"We don't know who pulled that knife on that evening," said Dickey. "Everybody knew where the knife was and I'm not so sure the witness really saw what he saw."
"Her credibility is not an issue at this stage," said Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Wayne Langerholc. "It's a prima facie level we were able to prove that and the charges were bound over."
The district attorney's office is fighting for criminal homicide but Dickey says there's no proof Miller's death was intentional, let alone the result of Gibson's actions.
"If you want to kill somebody, a couple of things, maybe you stab them more than one time. Second of all, you stab them in the heart, in the lungs, directly in the liver ... Some vital organ when you do that," said Dickey. "This was a very sad and unfortunate stab wound that, when you study the path of it, would not have been fatal but for the fact it cut this vessel and the poor girl bled to death."
"It's been a long day for the family, a trying day for the family," said Langerholc. "A lot of testimony was established but at this level all evidence must be viewed in a light most favorable for the commonwealth."
All charges were bound to court. That includes criminal homicide and several drug charges that were just added Tuesday. Police said they stem from nearly 300 stamp bags of heroin that were found inside Gibson's abandoned Trail Blazer a few hours after the stabbing. Police said the drugs had a street value of at least $3,000.