Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Time Doesn't Always Heal

Posted February 6, 2007 6:06 p.m. EST

When Ann Miller Kontz pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the arsenic poisoning death of her husband, Eric Miller, in December 2005, it appeared the case was over.  But it's not, not by a long-shot.

At issue- custody of the couple's 7-year-old daughter.  She has been in the physical custody of her aunt, her mother's sister, since her mother went to jail.  But in April, the court awarded the parents of Eric Miller joint custody.  So far this has been a difficult premise to work out as the grandparents live 750 miles away.  This is one issue they're asking the courts to help resolve, the logistics.

In addition, the grandparents want to prevent the child from having contact with her mother in prison.  They argue that because Ann Miller Kontz is in denial that she is responsible for the death of her husband that it would not be in the child's best interest to have a relationship with her.  They have experts to back up their assertion.

In the middle, of course, is the child.  Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, it's impossible to believe the she will come through this unscathed.  Her father is dead.  Her mother is in prison for twenty-five years having admitted to playing a role in his death.  The one thing the child has going for her is that she has a lot of people in both families who love her. 

The parents of Eric Miller, Doris and Verus, and his sister, Pam Baltzell, wear the loss of Eric Miller on their faces in the courtroom.  When asked simple questions about his son, Verus Miller's throat catches, tears glimmer in his eyes.  It's not over for him.  It's not over for the little girl.  It's not over for anybody, not by a long-shot.

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WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.