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Man accused of killing women near Phoenix canal in 1990s heads to trial

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A bench trial is scheduled to begin Monday for a man accused of sexually attacking and fatally stabbing two young women in separate killings nearly 30 years ago near a metro Phoenix canal system. Bryan Patrick Miller, 49, is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted sexual assault.

Prosecutors said the state is seeking the death penalty if Miller is convicted.

He waived his right to a jury trial so a Maricopa County Superior Court judge will decide Miller's fate.

Miller is accused of killing 22-year-old Angela Brosso in November 1992 and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas in September 1993.

Brosso and Bernas both disappeared while riding their bicycles along the Arizona Canal in north Phoenix.

Police believe the killer knocked Brasso off her bicycle, stabbed her and dragged her off the trail, CBS affiliate KOLD-TV reported. She was found nude and decapitated near a bike trail.

"I mean, this was extraordinary in its horror, you know. Who would do a thing like this?" William Hermann, a crime reporter with the Arizona Republic newspaper who covered the case, told the station.

Angela Brosso, left, and Melanie Bernas Silent Witness via CBS affiliate KPHO

Ten months later, Bernas' body was discovered floating in the canal. Bernas was not decapitated, but her bicycle was missing, KOLD-TV reported.

Authorities said DNA evidence collected in the aftermath of both crimes showed the attacks were linked to the same suspect.

Miller was arrested for the murders in 2015, but denied any involvement although he acknowledged living in the vicinity of the killings at the time and said he rode his bike on paths in the area, according to Phoenix police.

Bryan Patrick Miller Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via CBS affiliate KPHO

It wasn't until nine months ago that Miller was found mentally competent to stand trial.

Miller was well known in the Phoenix area to cosplay, sci-fi and horror convention fans, CBS affiliate KPHO-TV reported. He was known for driving around in an old police cruiser with the words "Zombie Hunter" on the trunk and a zombie mannequin in the back seat. Friends say he posed for photos with anyone who asked, including police officers.

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