Local News

Attorney Says Potential New Info In Eric Miller Case May Be Inadmissible

Posted June 1, 2004

— Raleigh police continue to evaluate new evidence they have received in the arsenic poisoning death of Eric Miller. The information may help solve the death of the University of North Carolina researcher, but many question whether it will be allowed in court.

Despite his objections, lawyer Rick Gammon had to hand over information he tried to keep private. Derril Willard, Gammon's client, talked about the death of Eric Miller before committing suicide. Police said Willard and Miller's wife, Ann, were having an affair. A judge ordered Gammon to tell prosecutors what Willard told him about a third person in the arsenic killing.

While no one will say who the third party is, Joe Cheshire, Ann Miller's attorney, has serious doubts the information could be admissible in court.

"I don't know how you even begin to assess whether it's truthful. You don't know what else he said. You don't know whether he had motivation for saying whatever he said -- whether they were proper motivations.

North Carolina Central University law professor Irving Joyner agrees. He said lawyers nationwide are watching the case to see how the courts handle this delicate exception.

"You have a hearsay problem on the one hand then you have a constitutional problem, which is the right of confrontation and the defendant would not have the opportunity to cross-examine the witness that has provided that information, but rather cross-examine a spokesperson," he said.

For the information to be allowed in court, Joyner believes police will have to find an independent source to authenticate its reliability and accuracy.

A Raleigh police spokesperson will not speculate on the admissibility of the new evidence. He said that decision is up to the courts.

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