Oct 4, 2022 - News

Everything you need to know about the Phoenix canal murders trial

Illustration of a pattern of gavels.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Almost 30 years after two young women were brutally murdered in Phoenix, the man charged with the killings could be sentenced to death.

  • Bryan Patrick Miller, who is now 49, was not arrested until 2015 when new genealogy data led to a breakthrough in the cold case.

State of play: Miller's trial began Monday.

  • He is accused of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of attempted sexual assault.
  • Bryan's attorney argued that his client was in a dissociative state during the killings and he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity, 12 News reported.

Flashback: Angela Brosso took a bike ride along the Arizona Canal on Nov. 8, 1992 — the night before her 22nd birthday.

  • She never returned to her apartment near Cactus Road and Interstate 17.
  • The following day she was found naked and decapitated. Her head was found in the canal 11 days later.
  • Ten months later, 17-year-old Melanie Bernas went missing, and her body was found in the canal.

Cold case: Despite hundreds of tips, Phoenix Police failed to find a lead suspect.

  • At the time of the deaths, police said there was no DNA evidence, but in 1999 the department was able to identify some.
  • This allowed police to connect the murders to the same killer, but they found no match in the FBI database.

Flash forward: In 2015, new technology that bridges DNA and forensic genealogy led police to Miller, The Arizona Republic reported.

What's next: Miller's fate will be decided by a judge, as he waived his right to a jury trial.

  • The state is seeking the death penalty.

Jeremy's thought bubble: Brosso was murdered near my neighborhood, and I've always maintained a keen interest in the case because of that.

  • I was in seventh grade when my school bus drove past the crime scene, which was filled with what seemed like hundreds of cops. We asked the bus driver if she knew what happened, and she explained that police had found a body.
  • After Miller was arrested, I found out from one of his Facebook posts that on at least one occasion, we were within 20 or 30 feet of each other at a bar I used to frequent.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Phoenix stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more