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Driver arrested with severed head in vehicle was just unlucky car thief, his lawyer says

A driver who was arrested after Las Vegas police found a severed head and other body parts in his pickup truck was just an unlucky thief who stole the wrong vehicle, his lawyer says.

However, prosecutors say Eric Holland, 57, killed the man who was found dismembered in the truck.

A hearing Tuesday determined he would be charged with murder and held without bail.

The events that led to Holland’s arrest began with an attempted traffic stop on the afternoon of Dec. 23 on Tropicana Avenue in the Spring Valley neighborhood.  A Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer pulled over a Toyota Tundra truck after a license check showed its registration was suspended.  The driver initially stopped but then drove away, the police report said.

Officers followed the truck for about three miles and saw it go into a parking garage next to the Rio hotel & casino. A short time later, another truck, a Chevrolet Avalanche, came out of the garage.

Believing it was the same driver, the police followed the Chevy truck for two more miles, until it stopped at an apartment complex near the Orleans casino.

There Holland got out and repeatedly ignored commands given by police, according to court documents. When he attempted to flee, he was stunned with a taser and detained, police said.

Once Holland was in custody, police found that both trucks had been reported stolen — the Chevrolet from California’s Santa Clara County.

While searching the Chevy, police found a black plastic trash bag emitting “a foul odor.” It had a severed head inside, according to the complaint. Coolers allegedly 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 the death a homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds.

An attorney for Holland, P. David Westbrook, said that his client had stolen 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 sealed.

“In order to presume that Mr. Holland had prior knowledge of the contents of this truck, you would also have to believe that he lead police to the body intentionally,” Westbrook said. “The question is: why would he do this?”

Prosecutors contend that Miller was an acquaintance of Holland’s and that Holland had been caught on video in a Home Depot buying a saw and plastic bags, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The next court appearance for Holland in this case is scheduled for January 27, according to Westbrook and court documents.

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Source: Orange County Register

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