Man charged in woman’s gruesome killing won’t face death penalty

CHARLOTTE — A man accused of committing a gruesome murder will not face the death penalty.

Police said Laura Miller was killed and her body was mutilated at an apartment in east Charlotte over Easter weekend. Miguel Gonzalez-Rasalas, 36, is charged with her murder.

Channel 9’s crime reporter Hunter Sáenz was in the courtroom Thursday as Gonzalez-Rasalas appeared before a judge.


Since District Attorney Spencer Merriweather took office in 2017, his prosecutors have yet to declare any case a capital case. On Thursday, that precedent continued. Sáenz learned Gonzalez-Rasalas will be spared his life, no matter how this case ends.

Thursday’s hearing was over in a matter of seconds.

“Your honor, I have received and reviewed this file. We are declaring this non-capital. May I approach?” a prosecutor said.

Prosecutors said Gonzalez-Rasalas brutally killed 35-year-old Laura Miller at the Stonegate Apartments on April 9.

The crime was so gruesome that they said Miller was unrecognizable. Her body was mutilated and some of it was burned inside Gonzalez-Rasalas’ apartment, prosecutors said. They said he had also broken the legs off a table, made three crosses out of them, and placed them around her body.

“I’m having a hard time accepting this,” Miller’s uncle, Cozy Michaels, told Sáenz.

He said personally, he isn’t happy with the decision prosecutors made.

“This man is like a devil,” he said.

“I mean this is ridiculous. This man should be given the death penalty. I don’t understand these kinds of things,” he added.

Prosecutors take many factors into consideration when deciding on the death penalty -- the nature of the crime, but also the defendant’s mental capability at the time of the crime.

Gonzalez-Rasalas is also charged with destroying remains and concealing a death. That charge is so rare that, in the last 10 years, state records show only 10 people in North Carolina have been charged with it.

(WATCH PREVIOUS: Prosecutors say accused killer made crosses, surrounded victim’s body with them)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.