Missionary wants parental-kidnap trial moved
Says Miranda rights violated
MONTPELIER - A missionary charged with helping a woman involved in a custody dispute with her former lesbian partner flee the United States with the child wants his trial moved from Vermont to Virginia.
In a motion filed Thursday in federal court in Rutland, Vt., a lawyer for Timothy David Miller said he also wants statements made to investigators in April excluded from the evidence, arguing that his client was not read his Miranda rights.
Miller, who is free on $25,000 bond and is awaiting trial, is accused of providing Lisa Miller and her 9-year-old daughter with travel assistance and a place to live outside the United States.
He pleaded not guilty to abetting an international parental kidnapping.
Timothy Miller and Lisa Miller are not related.
Lisa Miller and her child disappeared in September 2009 in the midst of a long-running custody dispute with her former partner, Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven, Vt.
The two women were joined in a civil union in Vermont in 2000, with Miller giving birth to Isabella two years later. The couple split up the next year.
Miller then renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian.
She was granted custody of the child; Jenkins was awarded visitation rights.
But Miller, who once lived in Forest, Va., has repeatedly failed to obey court orders, and in November 2009 a Vermont judge ordered her to surrender custody to Jenkins.
Miller failed to show up with the child on Jan. 1, 2010, and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest.
A lawyer for Timothy Miller said the Christian pastor, who was living in Managua, was stopped April 18 by US marshals and an FBI agent when he arrived at Reagan National Airport with his wife and four children. The were traveling to a wedding in Virginia.
Miller was interviewed at the airport police department office, where he told investigators he had been contacted by another man to purchase airplane tickets for Lisa Miller, and used his mother-in-law’s credit card to do so, according to the motion filed by Pennsylvania attorney Jeffrey A. Conrad.
Miller, described by the FBI as an Amish-Mennonite pastor from Tennessee, was charged with international parental kidnapping.
Conrad argues that the incriminating statements should be thrown out because Miller was the subject of an interrogation and was detained without having his rights read. He also says that the most appropriate place for the trial is the Western District of Virginia.
The alleged actions that constitute international parental kidnapping took place there, and the defendant was in Nicaragua when the alleged crime occurred and has never traveled to Vermont or had contact with anyone in the state, Conrad said in the motion.
A prosecutor did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.