By Laura Zuckerman
(Reuters) - A Montana man who told police he beat his girlfriend on the head with a flashlight and then slashed her throat to end her suffering has pleaded not guilty to a charge of deliberate homicide, a court clerk said on Wednesday.
William Miller, 64, of Great Falls, Montana, telephoned police at 4:07 a.m. on Monday and reported he had repeatedly struck Deborah Garrett on the back of the head with a heavy-duty flashlight after “seeing red,” according to a sworn statement by Great Falls police officers.
“He (Miller) added that she was suffering, so he slit her throat,” said the affidavit.
Police said they found Miller, an engineer, covered in blood but uninjured and sitting in a chair that was splattered with blood like the walls of the home.
“He was very calm and showed no apparent emotion,” investigators said in the affidavit.
Police said they found Garrett’s body face-down on the floor in a hallway. Her head was “covered in blood and appeared to have been bashed in” with a 12- to 14-inch steel flashlight, police said.
Garrett suffered a deep slash wound across her neck that appeared to have been inflicted by a stainless steel butcher knife that like the flashlight, was found on the floor next to her, police said.
Miller was in jail on $1 million bond after pleading not guilty to the homicide charge at a court hearing on Tuesday, said Cascade County prosecutor John Parker.
Deliberate homicide is punishable in Montana by death, life imprisonment or a minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum of 100 years, according to state law.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Peter Cooney)