BURLINGTON (AP) -- Prosecutors presented cellphone records to a federal jury Thursday that they say track the movements of a woman who allegedly fled the country with her daughter to avoid sharing custody with her former lesbian partner.
Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller is on trial in Vermont accused of helping Lisa Miller flee with her 7-year-old daughter Isabella to Nicaragua to live among Mennonites and avoid court orders giving Janet Jenkins visitation rights and later full custody of the child.
Kenneth Miller, who is no relation to Lisa Miller, is charged with aiding in international kidnapping. The crime carries a maximum prison term of three years. His lawyer says the 46-year-old man from Stuarts Draft, Va., believed Lisa Miller had full custody of Isabella when she left the country.
On Thursday, prosecutors introduced records for a cellphone used by a Virginia businessman as evidence of Lisa Miller’s movements from Virginia to Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 21, 2009. She and her daughter crossed into Canada the next day where they flew from Toronto, according to previous testimony from a Mennonite pastor who said he drove them to the airport.
Prosecutors said the cellphone used by Philip Zodhiates, owner of Response Unlimited of Waynesboro, Va., made the same trip from Virginia to Buffalo at the same time.
They said calls were made between Zodhiates’ cellphone and Kenneth Miller’s cellphone during the mother and daughter’s trip to Buffalo. In court documents, they also say that Lisa Miller and Isabella stayed for a time at a Nicaraguan beach house owned by Zodhiates and that Zodhiates sent the mother and child, who were not using their real names, a care package.
Zodhiates has not been charged in the case. He did not immediately return a phone message left for him at his business on Thursday.
Lisa Miller and Jenkins, of Fair Haven, entered a civil union in Vermont in 2000. Lisa Miller gave birth to her daughter in 2002. The couple later broke up, and Lisa Miller returned to her native Virginia.
A custody battle ensued in both Vermont and Virginia courts, with the supreme courts in both states eventually ruling the disagreement should be handled as a parental rights case under Vermont law.
Two months after Lisa Miller left the United States, a Vermont judge transferred custody to Jenkins. The current whereabouts of Lisa Miller and her now 10-year-old daughter are not known.
The trial is in its third day and is expected to continue into next week.