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Attorneys Discuss What To Expect During Ann Miller Kontz Trial

Posted October 13, 2005

— Ann Miller Kontz is no stranger to the courtroom.

She is charged with first-degree murder in the December 2000 arsenic-poisoning death of her husband, pediatric AIDS researcher Eric Miller.

She was arrested in September 2004 after a four-year investigation. But the next time she comes to court, the stakes will be higher: She will be fighting for the rest of her life.

Prosecutors said the day is a longtime coming.

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"It is a long time, but it's a very unusual case," said Colon Willoughby, the Wake County district attorney. "Of course, two trips to the N.C. Supreme Court in the middle have taken a considerable amount of time. But we're on track, and we're looking forward to getting this resolved."

Defense attorneys announced their experts will be Jacksonville pathologist Dr. Charles Garrett, who is head of the N.C. Medical Board, and Wake Forest toxicologist Dr. Robert Ryan.

"They're helping us analyze the arsenic issues and what happened within Eric Miller's body, what caused the death, and all of those types of things," said Joe Cheshire, one of Kontz's defense attorneys.

Besides poring through 1,700 pages of documents related to the case, defense attorneys are preparing to object to the state's evidence.

Their biggest objection is to the statement Derril Willard, Kontz's colleague and police say former lover, made to Rick Gammon, his attorney. In January 2001, Willard committed suicide.

The N.C. Supreme Court ordered Gammon to divulge the statement.

In the statement, Willard said Kontz admitted to injecting a substance in her husband's IV needle at the hospital. Gammon could be called to testify during the trial.

"If I'm subpoenaed to be there, I, of course, will be there," Gammon said. "But I will resist testifying, and it will have to be done by court order. That's the only way I will testify."

Cheshire said whatever happens, his client will be ready.

"She's looking forward to it getting over," Cheshire said. "The closer it comes, the more anxious she becomes, just like any other human being. But, she's looking forward to January."

The trial begins on January 16, 2006, and is expected to last several weeks. Kontz has been jailed on a $3 million bond since her arrest in September 2004.

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