A 32-year-old Trimble man has been sentenced to two life terms after pleading guilty to killing two sisters while he was high on methamphetamine.
Clifford Miller pleaded guilty Tuesday in Platte County Circuit Court to two counts of first-degree murder. A judge sentenced him to two life terms without the possibility of parole in the July deaths of 19-year-old Britny Haarup and 22-year-old Ashley Key.
Miller spoke quietly and answered, "Yes, sir," to the many questions from a state judge about the details of the crime.
Authorities began searching for the women after Haarup's fiance came home and found that their 6-month-old daughter and her 18-month-old sister had been alone for hours. Relatives of the women also said there was blood in the Edgerton residence, located about 35 miles north of Kansas City.
Miller told investigators he broke into the home with the intent to rape Haarup. He said he was surprised to see her sister on a sofa. He beat both women in the head, and grabbed a pillow which he used to smother each of the women. He molested Haarup's corpse, and put the two children in a crib.
"He was attracted to her (Haarup) and went to that home with one intention, and that intention was to rape her," Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said. "Ultimately and unbelievably, he did rape her after murdering her."
Miller stole guns and Haarup's pickup. He dumped the bodies, which were later found.
The sisters' father, Paul Haarup, who had pleaded for their safe return when they had gone missing and had done much to raise awareness to the case, spoke of the emotional trauma the family still faces.
"We force ourselves every morning to get out of bed and to go through the motions to survive," Haarup said.
He said the worst days will be when they have to explain the murders to the two children.
"As these girls grow older, the questions won't be how this happened but why. And we won't have answers," an emotional Haarup told the judge.
Zahnd said he decided to forego seeking the death penalty in exchange for Miller's guilty plea and the life convictions. Zahnd said he wanted to avoid a lengthy trial and appeals process for the family.
"These are truly horrific facts that certainly would have made him eligible for the death penalty, but I'm satisfied we have come to a just outcome," the prosecutor said. "It is appropriate that this defendant will take his last breath in prison."
Miller admitted he considered robbing and killing a couple to secure money so he could escape, but he said he changed his mind because there was a child in the home. He said he could not hurt children.
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