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Trial ahead for man accused of strangling teen

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The accused killer of a San Francisco high school student will stand trial for strangling her to death, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

Royce Miller, 23, of San Francisco, sat quietly in the courtroom of Judge Perker Meeks on Wednesday, watching his acquaintance Maurice Powell testify against him. By Thursday afternoon, Meeks ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold a trial.

The body of Maxina Danner, a straight-A Lincoln High School student then 17, was found clothed and wrapped in a blanket near McLaren Park in the Visitacion Valley neighborhood on Sept. 27, 2004. Miller and Danner apparently knew each other, but their relationship remains unclear. Prosecutors have not identified a motive in this case.

"It’s a circumstantial evidence case in a way. You have one person being with her alive, the last person being with her alive. That person is also whose house the body was found at, and that person was trying to dispose of the body," prosecutor Eric Fleming said in an interview Thursday.

Powell testified Wednesday that he had given Miller and "a female" a ride to Miller’s house Sept. 26. He said Miller had invited him over on Sept. 27 and asked Powell to help him dump a body, wrapped in the same blanket as the female had wrapped around her the night before. Powell said he asked Miller what had happened, to which Miller replied, "I had to do what I had to do."

Inspector Kervin Silas testified Thursday that Miller had first denied any involvement in Danner’s death, but then changed his story. He then claimed to have had found Danner’s body in his garage but did not know how it got there. He said he knew her vaguely.

Miller’s lawyer, Ira Barg, cross-examined Powell, who admitted to lying to investigators when he was first contacted. He also testified that he takes medication for a psychiatric disorder that makes him forget things.

Miller will return to court June 15 for arraignment on the information.

amartin@examiner.com