Millers hearing ends, decision to come in March
The Dexter parents who chained their now 6-year-old child to his bed last year fought back Tuesday against implications that they didn’t do everything they could to reunify their family.
Brian, 34, and Charity Miller, 27, testified how they would parent their children differently during the second day of their second termination of parental rights hearing. District Judge Fred Wellmann won’t rule on the case until mid-March, however. Mower County attorneys and attorneys for the Millers rested arguments and must submit closing argument statements by March 1, when Wellmann returns from a two-week vacation starting Feb. 15. Wellman has 15 days to make his decision after receiving closing arguments.
The Millers have had no contact with their children, 8- and 6-years-old, since they were arrested for chaining their youngest son to his bed over a six-month span.
Both parents testified that they faced difficulties trying to complete court-ordered actions like seeking therapy and creating a safety plan for their children. In addition, Charity testified that no one properly explained to her how to create a safety plan.
Both parents admitted to abusing their children as well.
Attorney Dan Donnelly argued Mower County Human Services had prevented Brian and Charity from completing their safety plan by June 30, the original deadline, as the children’s psychologist Dr. Marcia Guertin didn’t allow the parents to have access to the children to begin therapy.
Yet the Millers were questioned why they didn’t seek therapy when they were at the Mower County Jail from July 2011 to Jan. 22. Assistant Mower County Attorney Krista Van Gundy challenged the Millers’ account that they could not pay for therapy after Monday’s testimony revealed Brian’s father paid the mortgage on the Miller home as well as credit card bills, depleting their bank account. Brian and Charity said they never asked Brian’s father to help pay for things and he didn’t have access to their credit cards, which they could have used to pay therapy costs up front.
“I didn’t feel it was his responsibility to pay for my services and and the things I was able to do,” Charity said.
Both Millers say they are entering into therapy.
The Millers had to answer further questions about how they treated their children after both of them acknowledged they had abused their sons.
“I don’t want to put my boys through this anymore,” Charity said while crying. “They didn’t deserve it in the first place.”
Yet Brian strengthened the county’s case after Todd Schoonover, guardian ad-litem, questioned Brian about his children. Brian said he didn’t believe the boys were truly afraid of him and that he never saw his boys acting scared of him.
“I can’t acknowledge something I don’t see,” he said.
Brian said he didn’t truly believe Dr. Guertin when she told the Millers the boys didn’t want to live with them and talked about the last time he saw his 6-year-old son.
“He says ‘I love you Daddy; drive safe,’” Brian said. “That’s my last contact with my son, that’s what sticks in my head.”
Van Gundy asked if Brian’s son was also chained when he last saw him, which Brian affirmed. County attorneys argued Monday the Millers didn’t truly understand the extent of abuse they caused to their children.