``There was no malice from Dennis Miller toward Sherry Miller,'' he said, asking the judge to look at ``subtle testimony'' about the couple's relationship.
Dennis Miller's mother, Agnes K. Miller, had testified that the couple separated several times during their 12-year relationship, but that Sherry Miller always begged her husband to come back.
``This is a man and a wife who didn't live well together, but lived less well when they were not together,'' Kalmbach said.
Prosecutor Robert L. Miller Jr., who is no relation to the defendant, agreed in his closing that ``there was love in that relationship at one time. I think he knows that,'' he said, looking at the defendant. But he added there ``was more than love in that relationship. There was anger and there was bitterness.''
He said Dennis Miller had motives that he and the judge might not be able to understand, such as anger over his wife's relationship with another man.
``Calling it rage does nothing to diminish the fact that he meant to kill her,'' Robert Miller said. He pointed out several elements to show Dennis Miller planned the murder, including making sure the couple's children were at their grandmother's house the night of the murder.
He then read excerpts from a letter found on a coffee table near a partially full coffee cup in the couple's living room. The letter, which handwriting experts have said was written by Dennis Miller, spoke of a desire to teach Sherry Miller a lesson. ``Now I hope some of Sherry's . . . friends learn something from this,'' it said.
After Dennis Miller was featured on America's Most Wanted, police spent several months responding to tips about his whereabouts. He was arrested in May 1996 in Florida after a coworker called police.
Kalmbach put on only one witness in Dennis Miller's defense, a former Chester County Prison inmate who knew him when he was serving a nine-month sentence in 1995 for holding a gun to his wife's head. The inmate, Eric L. Blevins, testified about the motives of a third inmate, Michael D. Torres.
Torres, Dennis Miller's one-time cellmate in Chester County, testified Tuesday that Dennis Miller's last words before leaving prison in September 1995 were: ``I'll be back for killing my wife.''
Torres, who was facing time in a state correctional institution, said he remembered reading something about Dennis Miller in the newspaper and was ``going to use Dennis to get out of jail,'' testified Blevins, who is in prison for rape and has been convicted in the past for theft by deception.
But State Trooper William Shores testified that Torres did not contact police, and that when police came to the prison during their investigation, he never discussed reduced prison time.
In Kalmbach's closing statement, he argued that prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Miller raped his wife. He said no clothing had been torn - police found Dennis Miller's shirt hung neatly on a chair and Sherry Miller's bra on a dresser in the master bedroom. Testimony by a forensic pathologist that the rape occurred during the stabbing was ``not only psychologically irrational but physically almost impossible,'' Kalmbach said.
But Robert Miller countered that finding unripped clothes strewn throughout the room was ``not inconsistent at all'' with a knife-point rape. During Sherry Miller's life, he said, she went to police repeatedly to ask for help. Now ``these wounds are Sherry's way - and the only way she has left - to cry out to us and ask for help,'' he said.
The penalty phase begins today.