The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 21, 2013

Homicide suspect retains prominent Altoona attorney, begins building defense

David Hurst

— The Tire Hill man accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend Aug. 6 has lined up a well-known Altoona attorney for his defense.

And while Thomas Dickey says he is still in the earliest stages of trying to “piece together what really happened,” the veteran attorney said he does not believe Demetrius D. Gibson intended to kill 21-year-old Elizabeth Miller that morning.

“A life was lost. It’s very sad that she’s dead,” Dickey said. “But we can’t rush through this without the full story – without leaving any stone unturned.

“From what I’m seeing,” he added, “I just don’t believe Mr. Gibson wanted to commit first-degree murder on this woman.”

Police have charged Gibson with homicide, aggravated assault and other charges stemming from the incident in Moxham.

City investigators say Gibson and Miller had been fighting at their Tire Hill home earlier that morning and arranged to meet at the Dollar Car Wash on Bridge Street.

While in Gibson’s vehicle inside a car wash bay, an argument ensued, one witness told police.

Moments later, Miller screamed for help, saying Gibson stabbed her, prompting the Tire Hill man to leave the scene, police have said.

Miller, stabbed in an artery leading to the heart, suffered major blood loss and died in a Memorial Medical Center operating room, Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said.

She was stabbed once, he said.

Police issued a warrant for Gibson’s arrest the same day – and searched for him for more than 10 days before he turned himself in to authorities late Saturday.

Miller’s mother, Barbara Stumph, said her family will not be able to see full closure “until there’s justice for Lizzy.”

“Fortunately, he can’t hurt anybody else now,” Stumph said Monday night, adding she was in disbelief when she first heard Gibson surrendered to police. “He’s off the streets.”

“But we still have a long journey ahead,” she said.

Gibson’s case has been transferred to District Judge Leonard Grecek’s office in Roxbury. A preliminary hearing originally scheduled for this week is being continued to a later date, but one was not set as of Tuesday afternoon, court staff said.