Local News

Arsenic Evidence Expected To Be Key In Ann Miller Trial

Posted October 4, 2004

— For most of her adult life, Ann Miller has worked in science. Now, science is likely to play an important role in determining whether she killed her husband.

Ann Miller is charged with her husband's death. When the case goes to court, a key piece of evidence is likely to be whether the arsenic found in Eric Miller's body is the same type of arsenic found in the lab where Ann Miller worked.

There are about 65 types of arsenic. Most of them are highly specific and not easy to get.

"Among poisoning cases, I think arsenic is No. 1," said Dr. Woodhall Stopford, of Duke Medical Center. "It causes extraordinary tissue damage throughout the body. You take your choice on how you're going to die. It can cause liver failure, kidney failure. It can cause heart failure."

Police said Eric Miller died a slow and painful death. After examining hair samples, the medical examiner determined he was poisoned multiple times over a six-month period.

"With long-term exposure, it acts as a poison to most every tissue," Stopford said.

Investigators believe Miller received one dose of arsenic in a glass of beer while bowling. He complained it tasted funny and began having stomach pain.

"When you have an acute dose of arsenic, you have extraordinary abdominal pain like you're having a crisis -- appendicitis," Stopford said.

There are few arsenic experts in the country. Officials say they will most likely come from out of state to participate in the case.

Miller is being held without bond pending a hearing to decide whether or not prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

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