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May 13, 2014

Judge: Evidence permitted in trial

EBENSBURG — Evidence gathered by the Johnstown Police Department following the August murder of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Miller can be used in the upcoming trial of her alleged assailant.

Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker has denied a number of requests made on behalf of Demetrius Gibson regarding search warrants used following the Aug. 6 stabbing death of Miller.

Defense attorney Thomas Dickey of Altoona was seeking to have the information obtained in three search warrants that covered the search of an apartment, a vehicle and DNA samples tossed out.

Also denied were motions to suppress a photo identification lineup and three judicial orders involving electronic tracing.

Gibson, 21, of Tire Hill, is set to go on trial with jury selection to begin Aug. 25 in the stabbing death of Miller, who was his estranged girlfriend.

The stabbing occurred in the parking lot of the Dollar Car Wash on Bridge Street in the city’s Moxham neighborhood.

The two shared an apartment in the 1100 block of Catherine Street, Tire Hill, but had been fighting at the time of the early morning stabbing inside a parked 2000 red Chevrolet Blazer driven by Gibson, police said.

Krumenacker’s ruling comes in the wake of last week’s hearing on pretrial motions seeking to suppress the evidence.

The defense argued that the search warrants, photo lineup and court approved electronic monitoring lacked sufficient probable cause.

Gibson was listed as a suspect after being identified in a photo lineup by the victim’s brother, who was at the scene at the time of the stabbing.

Dickey argued that city police lacked the authority to impound the Blazer driven by Gibson, which was found abandoned halfway over a bank in the 700 block of Forest Avenue.

Police testified last week that the vehicle was relocated to a secure facility until a search warrant could be obtained. It was discovered with a window partially down and blood and other evidence in danger of being lost, police said.

The judge did grant a motion seeking information due the defense including all DNA results of Gibson, the victim, the knife and the crime scene when they are received by the Cambria County District Attorney’s office.

Also to be forwarded to the defense is a video surveillance tape from a bar near the crime scene and any relevant information concerning witnesses.

A request to have an out-of- county jury brought in or the trial taken to another part of the state because of the publicity following the murder was taken under advisement by Krumenacker until the jury selection process.  

Gibson eluded police for about two weeks, then turned himself in.

He remains housed in the Cambria County Prison, where he has been since his arrest.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

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