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BREAKING: Emotional testimony in Eliason case

Published 1:54pm Tuesday, March 23, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

Jean Miles, the grandmother of Dakotah Eliason, 14, said there was nothing unusual going on in her home or with her grandson as far as she could tell in the hours before he would allegedly fatally shoot her husband, Jesse Miles, in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 7.

Miles said she’d heard a “pop” loud enough to wake her from her sleep, assuming the noise came from the home’s wood stove, when she testified her grandson called out to her, “I just shot Papa.”

Eliason’s grandmother was only the first witness to take the stand in what has already been an emotional day of testimony today in Berrien County Court regarding the shooting death of her husband.

She took the stand as a witness for the prosecution during the pre-examination hearing, along with Michigan State Trooper Brenda Kiefer, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Eugene Castow and Michigan State Det. Sgt. Fabian Suarez.

Miles said it was Eliason who initially called 911 as she instructed him, her husband seemingly unconscious and “bleeding heavily” on the couch where he had been sleeping.

Eliason sat with hands clasped and head bowed as his grandmother spoke this morning. She was visibly upset, shaking and choking up with tears at times, describing her grandson as “a very intelligent young man.”

The court also heard audio recordings from inside Castow’s police cruiser where Eliason was handcuffed and held after Kiefer had been first to arrive on scene.

At the scene, Kiefer said Eliason didn’t show any emotion. He was very matter-of-fact.”

Kiefer said from speaking to Eliason at that time she learned he had “contemplated suicide” and when asked why, “his first response was sadness,” he said. Then, Eliason told her, he had “pent up anger.”

Audio recordings capture the absence of emotion in Eliason’s own voice, as he speaks with Castow and wonders what might happen to him.

“My life just became an episode of ‘Law and Order,’ ” Eliason said. “No commercials.”
Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter also entered into evidence along with the audio recording from the police cruiser a video recording of Eliason’s questioning with Suarez at the Law Enforcement Complex Center in Niles.

During that time, the 14-year-old spoke to Suarez both in the presence of his father and alone.
“What happened tonight?” Suarez asked him.

Eliason’s initial response was, “I don’t know.”

“After I grabbed the gun,” he said a few moments later, “It was just this whole thing going on inside my head.”

He told Suarez he had no reason to shoot Miles, that he’d always been a good grandfather to him and hadn’t been hurt by him. But he did say he’d contemplated various ways to kill his grandfather, including the use of knives or even a pillow.

Eliason also made reference to “when you hear voices in your head” and split personalities.
These are just snapshots from two hours of video and audio footage presented in court today that includes conversations between Eliason and his father Steven both before and after confirmation of Miles’ death.

Presiding Judge Scott Schofield adjourned the courtroom to return at 2 p.m. when Eliason’s attorney Lanny Fisher is expected to call one witness for the defense.

The Star will have more on this developing story.

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