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VICTORVILLE — In a cold case labeled as high profile by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, jurors on Tuesday found a Tennessee man guilty of killing an independent contractor for Southern Pacific Railroad in 1991 and hiding his body underneath a mattress inside a Victorville motel room.
The jury decision came on the seventh day of trial and second day of jury deliberations.
James Christian Arrowood, 41, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9, along with his brother, Michael Dane Arrowood, who pleaded guilty last year to voluntary manslaughter and robbery charges, court records show.
During a preliminary hearing in 2010, sheriff’s detectives said John Richard Miller, 39, of Kansas, who had been working in Victorville for about a month, picked up the brothers after their van broke down in Las Vegas in the midst of a cross-country trip from Tennessee to Los Angeles.
Miller took the brothers to the EZ-8 Motel in the 15400 block of Park Avenue, where he was staying on a business trip, even supplying pizza and drinks for the two, according to Detective Greg Myler.
Michael Arrowood testified in 2010 that it was James Arrowood who suggested they rob Miller after they found $1,000 cash in the motel room; James Arrowood then strangled Miller from behind with a towel until Miller collapsed to the floor.
After hiding the body underneath a mattress, the brothers fled in Miller’s pickup truck, Michael Arrowood told Myler.
The case had gone unsolved for roughly 17 years until sheriff’s officials reopened it in 2008. Using new technologies previously unavailable to them, officials identified a fingerprint belonging to Michael Arrowood, authorities said.
Detectives from the sheriff’s Cold Case Unit traveled to Tennessee to interview Michael Arrowood in September 2010 and arrested him two months later.
Charges were filed against James Arrowood in May 2012, court records show.
In a message on Twitter, the District Attorney’s office lauded Tuesday’s guilty verdict and the effort of case prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum.
“Congrats to Deputy DA Yoakum and the @sbcountysheriff for their hard work in seeking justice for the victim in the #Arrowood cold case,” the tweet said.
Shea Johnson may be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.