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"Zombie Hunter," Convicted of 1990s Arizona Canal Murders, Sentenced to Death
Bryan Patrick Miller was found guilty in April for murdering Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas back in the '90s.
The convicted killer dubbed the “Zombie Hunter” was sentenced to death last week for the murders of two young women who disappeared in separate incidents while riding their bicycles along an Arizona canal around 30 years ago.
Bryan Patrick Miller was convicted in April on two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted sexual assault, in the deaths of 21-year-old Angela Brosso, and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas, according to CBS News. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Cohen presided over the bench trial after Miller waived his right to a jury trial. She ruled him eligible for the death penalty back in April.
"The defendant did not just murder them. He brutalized them and he evaded capture for over 20 years," Cohen noted during the sentencing phase, according to CBS News.
Brosso was attacked on Nov. 8, 1992, while riding her bike along a path near her apartment. Her naked and decapitated body was found in a field near her home. Evidence showed she was also sexually assaulted by her assailant. Her head was found 11 days later near the Arizona Canal, according to The Arizona Republic. She would have been 22 the day after she was murdered.
Ten months later, Melanie Bernas, a 17-year-old high school student, was believed to also have been cycling along a bike path near the Arizona Canal when she was brutally attacked on Sept. 21, 1993. As reported by The Republic, the killer stabbed Bernas before sexually assaulting her, then threw her mutilated body into the Arizona Canal.
The case remained cold until 2015 when Miller, who became known as the "Zombie Hunter" because of a bumper sticker on his car, was arrested following new DNA analysis in the investigation.
In 2014, a genealogist uploaded the DNA from the semen collected at both crime scenes into an ancestry database, which eventually came up with the last name Miller. According to court records, Bryan Miller’s name had previously on the police department’s list of investigative leads in the case, per Fox 10 Phoenix.
“Words cannot begin to explain the level of excruciating pain we experience every single day since her murder," Bernas’ sister Jill Canetta said in court, KPHO-TV reported. "We live without her smile, her hugs, her companionship. We live without her love.”
“The defendant stole my angel from the Earth. Angela was my one and only. I will never be able to plan her wedding. I will never have grandchildren,” said Linda Brosso, Angela’s mother, according to KPHO. “With his actions on that night, he murdered my angel, he ripped my heart, and I will never, ever be the same.”
At his trial, which began on Oct. 3 of last year, Miller pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, according to The Arizona Republic. Over the course of Miller’s six-month bench trial, the defense argued that Miller was unable to comprehend his actions when he killed Bernas and Brosso due to being in a dissociative state.
Miller spoke for the first time during the sentencing phase of his trial, KPHO reported.
“I am not looking for sympathy today,” Miller said on May 22. “This time is for the family and the friends of the victims. I cannot imagine what pain they have endured for all these years.