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Hearing Scheduled For Woman Accused Of Poisoning Eric Miller

Posted November 16, 2004

— It took nearly four years for prosecutors to charge Ann Miller with murdering her husband. Now, they must decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Also at issue is whether Miller, who has a four-year-old daughter and a new husband, will stay in jail while she awaits trial. Miller is charged with murder in the arsenic poisioning death of her husband, Eric Miller, in December 2000. Joe Cheshire, Miller's attorney, wants to get his client out of jail on bond.

"Ann has been a wonderful, wonderful mother to this child and this child loves her mother very, very much, and I can't imagine that people would not take that into account," he said.

One factor which will help determine whether Miller gets bond is whether the state seeks the death penalty.

"I think that because of the nature of the allegations that if they wanted to, they could support that decision," Cheshire said.

Prosecutors are keeping their decision close to the vest.

"We get input from the victims' families," district attorney Colon Willoughby said.

"We don't know. We've asked a number of times and they say they haven't made their mind up and won't make their mind up until tomorrow," Cheshire said. "I'm hopeful that people have impressed upon them that they don't want it to be a death penalty case."

Up until about two years ago, prosecutors in North Carolina had little discretion when it came to the death penalty. If a case had certain elements, elements called aggravating factors, they were required to seek it. The law has now changed, and the state can consider other factors, like the victim's family's wishes and the time and resources required to try such a case.

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