Friday, October 3, 2003
Man Accused in Girly's Murder Is Free
By Barbara Chavez
Journal Staff Writer
For nearly five years, Bill Miller has been the third person prosecutors have wanted to put behind bars for the kidnapping and murder of Girly Chew Hossencofft in 1999.
On Thursday, Miller was told by a judge that he did not have to spend any more time in jail for the only crime he was ever formally charged with evidence tampering.
Diazien Hossencofft, Girly's estranged husband, and Linda Henning, the former girlfriend of Diazien Hossencofft, are both serving time for Girly's murder.
Henning was convicted of murder and kidnapping in October and was sentenced to 731/2 years in prison. Diazien Hossencofft pleaded no contest to murder, kidnapping and other charges last year and is serving a life sentence in a Wyoming prison.
Girly Hossencofft's body was never found, but a tarp, a blouse and pair of shorts, duct tape and other items with her DNA on them were found on N.M. 60 near Magdalena.
Though Miller had been accused of helping Diazien Hossencofft and Henning kidnap and kill Girly Chew Hossencofft in 1999, he was never indicted in three grand jury trials on charges connecting him with the murder.
Finally in July, Miller was charged with attempted evidence tampering, a misdemeanor to which he pleaded no contest. The evidence tampering charge stemmed from a videotape of Miller eating a business card and hiding another one in his shoe while he was alone in an interrogation room.
"A crime was committed here," said District Judge Richard Knowles at Miller's sentencing Thursday. "But I can't find that it impeded the investigation of murder at all."
The maximum sentence that could have been imposed was three years minus three days. Instead, Knowles told Miller that he was sentencing him to one year supervised probation and that he was being given credit for seven weeks he has already spent in jail.
Knowles said Miller's plea did not preclude prosecutors from seeking another grand jury indictment if new evidence against Miller turns up.
Miller's attorney, Ray Twohig, said Thursday that the entire case against his client has been based on "a flimsy foundation and a lot of imagination by the prosecution."