RALEIGH, N.C. — It took nearly four years for prosecutors to charge Ann Miller-Kontz with murdering her husband. On Tuesday, prosecutors announced in a hearing that they will not pursue the death penalty against her.
Prosecutors said that it was their discretion not to seek capital punishment in the case.
"I have reviewed the evidence in this case and the state does not intend to seek the death penalty in this case," said District Attorney Colon Willoughby. "There may be evidence in which there could be an aggravating circumstance but after reviewing it I have elected in my discretion to not seek the death penalty based on my review of the evidence and the totality of the circumstance."
Miller-Kontz was visibly relieved with the decision. She smiled in the courtroom and mouthed "I love you" to her family who was at the hearing.
"She was concerned -- very concerned," said Wade Smith, the defense attorney. "She was thankful and pleased."
Eric Miller's family was a factor in the state's decision to not pursue the death penalty. They told prosecutors they would rather not have a capital trial.
"We feel that Eric did die an agonizing death," said Verus Miller, Eric Miller's father. "We do want justice for our son, but as a family we just wasn't for the death penalty."
Willoughby said that the state listened to the victim's family.
"We listened to what they said and took that into consideration," Willoughby said.
Defense lawyers did not seek bond, but asked for a date to be set for when a bond hearing could be held.
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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