Local Politics

In-Laws: Keep Ann Miller Kontz Away From Daughter

Posted February 6, 2007 12:54 p.m. EST
Updated February 6, 2007 10:09 p.m. EST

— The parents of murdered AIDS researcher Eric Miller on Tuesday asked a judge to block all contact between their granddaughter and their daughter-in-law, admitted killer Ann Miller Kontz.

Kontz confessed in November 2005 to using arsenic to fatally poison her husband five years earlier. She is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

District Judge Phyllis Gorham last April accepted an agreement to place the Millers' daughter in the custody of Kontz's sister and brother-in-law, Danielle and Dan Wilson of Wilmington. Verus and Doris Miller, Eric Miller's parents, have secondary custody of 7-year-old Clare Miller and frequently travel from their Indiana home to visit her in North Carolina.

The Millers' attorney, Robert Ponton, said they feel strongly that Clare should have no contact with her mother. Kontz previously had visits with her daughter in prison, but has only talked with her daughter on the phone since the custody agreement was reached.

"Our evidence will support there should be no contact between inmate Ann Miller and the minor child," Ponton said.

The Millers also want Gorham to rework the custody agreement to give them primary custody of Clare.

"I think she needs to know her father's side of the family," Verus Miller said, adding that Danielle Wilson had promised him she would help the couple gain custody if Kontz was convicted in the case.

But James Lea, the Wilsons' attorney, said pulling Clare out of the Wilson's home would be traumatic for the girl.

"She is extremely bonded to Dan and Danielle and is insecure at being taken away from them," Lea said. "You have a young child that at the end of the hearing ... could potentially not have a mother or father."

Psychologist Ginger Calloway testified on behalf of the Millers that it isn't in the girl's best interests to have a relationship with the woman who killed her father.

Attorney Al Clyburn, who represents Kontz, disagreed, saying that the girl will suffer over the long term if she isn't allowed to have contact with her mother.

"If Judge Gorham terminates contact, we will have a child who will not be able to have any contact with either of her biological parents," Clyburn said.

Kontz wasn't at the hearing. Clyburn said she didn't want to be a distraction.

"Ann is committed to this child. Ann wants what's best for this child," he said. "This child is absolutely the most important thing to her, and the outcome of this case is the most important thing."