Wake Robin resident pleads not guilty to ricin charge

By Eileen O’Grady

Shelburne resident Betty Miller appeared in U.S. District Court Friday for the third time since her arrest Nov. 30, pleading not guilty to the charge of possessing an unregistered select agent  — the poison ricin  — in her Wake Robin apartment.

Miller, 70, entered the courtroom haltingly with shackled wrists, gripping the handle of her walking cane.

She showed no visible emotion as she sat, clad in dark blue prison scrubs, beside her defense lawyer, Paul Volk. News reporters and court officers were the only people attending the 10-minute hearing.

At the arraignment, Miller was officially informed of the felony indictment that was returned against her. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy entered the not guilty plea on her behalf.

Volk, citing the complicated nature of the case, asked for and was granted 90 days for ongoing investigation and discovery. All pretrial motions must be entered by March 26, Conroy said.

Miller is accused of making ricin in her kitchen, using castor beans taken from plants growing on the Wake Robin property, and then testing the potency of the ricin on other people. Under questioning by Conroy about her level of education, Miller said she holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational medicine.

Miller has an extensive mental health history, which will need to be explored, Volk said.

Miller is being held without bail at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington.

 

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