He did not explain how bullets from the suspect's gun allegedly ended up in the victim's head, however.
A Las Vegas man who was caught with a severed head and other body parts in a stolen truck just unluckily picked the wrong vehicle to rob, his lawyer has claimed.
On December 23, Las Vegas police attempted to pull over a Toyota Tundra they spotted over a suspended registration, but the driver fled. An air unit followed the truck to a parking structure, where they say the suspect switched vehicles and attempted to flee once again, this time in a gold Chevrolet Avalanche.
Officers managed to chase and corner the truck, but the driver refused to get out. After a brief stand-off, in which he hurled objects at the officers, they deployed tasers and took 57-year-old Eric Holland into custody, likely to face stolen vehicle and officer assault charges.
But when one of the officers began doing a standard inventory to impound the vehicles as evidence, the case took on a much darker facet: noticing a smell of "decay or fish" coming from the bed of the Avalanche, the officer said he found several coolers taped shut. Inside were trash bags containing a human head, a torso and a pair of legs.
A coroner later determined the victim, 65-year-old Richard P. Miller, had been shot to death before being dismembered.
According to police, Holland was also found with three handguns, as well as receipts for a power saw, construction-grade plastic bags and heavy-duty tape. Investigators also claim the bullets lodged in the victim's head came from one of Holland's guns.
One of the detectives testified that surveillance footage from a home improvement store showed a person who looked like Holland buying a saw and other items.
Police also believe Holland and Miller were not strangers, and had been acquainted.
However, Holland's public defender David Westbrook claimed in court on Tuesday his client was just in the wrong place at the wrong time — though admittedly in the wrong person's car.
While he conceded Holland "was caught while running from police," he argued his client might have been "a hapless car thief who just picked the wrong car."
Westbrook said it was on the prosecution not only to prove there was a body in the car, "but that he knew it was there and that he actually caused the death," KTLA reported.
Prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci meanwhile said Holland was an ex-con with prior felony and federal offenses dating back to the '80s in California, Texas and Nevada, who was a danger to the public.
"The victim is literally cut into pieces," he argued, insisting Holland be denied bail. "His head is cut off."
Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia agreed.
"Proof is evident and the presumption is great that Mr. Holland committed murder," she said.
Holland is being held without bail on one charge of open murder. He also has outstanding warrants for using another person's ID, auto embezzlement of more than $3,500, intent to use a false check and theft of more than $3,500. His next hearing is scheduled for January 27.
Police have not yet suggested a motive for the crime.
Outside court, Westbrook said his client intends pleading not guilty.
He reiterated that the prosecution had yet to prove Holland "had knowledge of what was in the Avalanche, and that he intentionally led police to the evidence."