Osceola — Neida Pinon, mistress of murder suspect Michael Jamey Miller, testified in court this morning that Miller offered to buy her new tires on the day after Teresa Miller was killed.
Pinon testified that on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, Miller came to visit her. He said that within a month, everything would be all right with their relationship. She had been concerned about continuing her relationship with him after discovering that he was still married.
As Miller prepared to leave, he called her over to his car. At that time, he gave her money for new tires "to get them changed."
Miller had borrowed Pinon's car the day before, Jan. 7. It was on this date that Teresa Miller was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head inside her home.
Pinon testified with the assistance of an interpreter. Many of Pinon's statements, as well as those made later in the day by witness Tyree Lewis, were objected to by Defense Attorney Jason Dunn as hearsay. Those objections coincided with testimony given by Pinon, regarding conversations she had with Miller. Judge John Lloyd overruled the majority of these objections.
Pinon's testimony, beyond the introduction of the evidence that Miller sought to have the tires on her vehicle replaced, was the same as that given during the trial of Teresa Miller's shooter, Terry Cobbins. Police believe Cobbins was hired by Miller to kill his wife. Cobbins was tried and convicted last month.
Pinon did not know Miller was married, testimony she repeated today. During cross-examination, it was learned that Miller wore a wedding ring.
Pinon's testimony included recollections of conversations between herself and Miller. However, Pinon said she could only understand "20 percent" of the English anyone speaks to her, even after living in the United States for 11 years. Pinon also said during cross-examination that Miller does not speak Spanish.
One of Pinon's children discovered bullets in the parking lot of her home the day after Teresa Miller's murder. She told Miller about it and he took them.
From there, she went shopping and then to a pawn shop. When Pinon returned home later that Saturday, the police stopped her in the parking lot.
They took her to the station for questioning. While there, she said she lied to them.
"They told me that I could not be lying," Pinon testified. "I had to tell the truth."
Pinon said she lied because she was afraid the investigation would include discussions with superior personnel at her employer, Marzetti's Frozen Pasta. Miller was Pinon's supervisor there and the company has a policy against fraternization. She was afraid that if her relationship with Miller was discovered, she could be fired.
Police knew she was lying to them because Miller had already given them the correct information. They sought the truth from her, and went so far as to threaten her with jail time and the possibility of losing her children.
"Police scared you pretty bad?" Dunn asked.
"Yes," Pinon replied.
Tara DeBartelow testifies
Enterprise Rental Car Agent Tara DeBartelow took the stand. She entered the company into the rental agreement with Miller. Miller rented a Chevy Suburban for Cobbins after ther murder, which Cobbins and his family took to Milwaukee, Wis.
"Overall, the interaction was strange," DeBartelow testified about the discussion with Miller. She told the court that Miller arrived with Cobbins and Bernard Bussey.
Tyree Lewis testifies
Tyree Lewis, Cobbins' former neighbor, testifed next. He told the jury about conversations he had with Cobbins about Miller allegedly seeking the death of his wife. Lewis identified Miller in court as Cobbins' boss.
"I thought he was just blowing smoke," Lewis said of Cobbins' request for assistance with the murder. "I didn't want to believe he was serious."
Agents with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation knocked on Lewis' door in the days after the murder. Lewis said he began asking questions about the victim, to see if she matched Teresa Miller's description.
Lewis sought to keep his name out of the coversations regarding the murder investigation, but assisted with it.
Cross examination is expected to begin this afternoon, following the daily lunch break. Check back here this evening for the latest on trial proceedings. Look for full stories on the trial in the March 23 and March 30 Journal-Express.