On Kenneth Miller: An Eyewitness Account of Today's Events!
- Forwarded Message:
What a day! What a hearing!
We gathered in the hallways of the US District courthouse
in Burlington, VT. waiting and visiting for a few minutes
while Judge William Sessions finished a previous case
involving extradiction of an illegal alien back to Mexico.
Many of us had met on a similar occasion last August; Ken
With children present, there were well over 100 friends
and supporters gathered - plus a few reporters. Very few,
if any, seemed to be supporters of the prosecution.
We entered the courtroom at about 2:45 filling it tightly
The judge came in about 10 minutes later.
First he heard arguments from the prosecution and the defense
about whether Ken should receive an "enhanced" sentence for
The defense argued that there was nothing extra-ordinary
that separated this crime from a typical similar crime
and that Ken's character was such that supervised release
was sufficient penalty.
The prosecution argued that the crime could not have
occurred without Ken so his role was substantial.
She also said that by selecting a foreign country without
close diplomatic ties to the US and by continuing to
conceal Lisa and Isabella's whereabouts, there was
substantial interference of justice and significant
extra involvement and expense for the federal government.
The judge responded with a 2 fold question direct to Ken
and his attorneys.
Is your position still the same-that you acted for reasons
of faith and conscience in helping Lisa and Isabella and
Would you do it again?
He said there is significant evidence that a defendant who
will not express sorrow for his crime will much more likely
Upon consultation they responded that "yes" his position
is still the same, but that the second question is a bit
hypothetical and they were unable to give a definite answer
whether he would or would not do it again.
Ken said he does not believe a similar situation would occur
again, that he was far more knowledgeable of the legal issues
and the implications for his family and others in such a case
than he had been, and that if a similar situation came up, he
would need time for counsel and prayer to make a decision.
The judge found his answers troublesome and there was continued conversation.
The defense emphasized that he had been sought out by Lisa,
that he had a clean record as far as other violations of the
law, that he had acted on deeply held convictions, and that
there was evidence that quite a number of his people would
have done a similar thing if the request had come to them
Ken was given the opportunity to address the court.
He spoke clearly and quietly for several minutes.
He said he has a family of six children which he cares for
very deeply. From a very young age he has been taught that
the conscience is a priceless gift from God and that it is
primary to allow this inner light to function properly in
He said he acknowledges that the government and legal system
is also ordained of God and he finds himself in a great
dilemna - On the one hand desiring to honor the state, but
on the other desiring to live with a clear moral conscience
He desires to do both, but he also knows that his highest
loyalty is to Christ.
He said respectfully with some emotion that it seems to
him this court is judging his faith and conscience before
God and he does not know what to do.
So he chooses to look beyond this court to a higher court
to which everyone of us, even this court, will give an
account and to follow the example of our Lord Jesus who,
in the words of the apostle Peter, "committed himself to
Him who judges righteously".
This brings peace of mind, rest of soul, and a willingness
to yield himself into the hands of this court to accept
whatever decision they make, even if it brings hardship.
The judge asked him to clarify how his faith led to this
In a quiet, clear, but slightly faltering voice Ken responded,
> "I and my people would believe and teachIt was 3:45 and a 15 min. recess was called.
> that marriage is ordained by God as being
> the union of a man and a woman and that a
> child's parentage is of a father and a mother."
A few brethren met for prayer outside the courtroom during
this time acknowledging the Lord and His power.
After the recess, the prosecution proceeded with their
She spoke for 10 to 15 min.
She spoke words of appreciation for Ken's beliefs, but said
that these beliefs must be held within the bounds of the
law and cannot be exercised contrary to the law.
She requested a sentence of 30 to 36 months based primarily
on 3 points.
First, Ken assisted in the removal of a child from the US.
She said it is impossible to overstate the immense proportions
of this offense and the devastating effects it will have on a
child because the US is the privileged place where everybody
wants to come.
They even sneak across borders to get here.
Apparently in the trial just previous to this one she had
argued that it was better for an illegal immigrant's child
to stay in it's home country; because the judge somewhat
> "I thought in the last trial you objectedShe proceeded with her second point that Ken had robbed Ms.
> to a child being brought to this country.
> I find that amusing."
Jenkin's of her child-an unimaginable nightmare to a parent
who was present when the child was born.
She said Ken professes to have compassion for Ms. Jenkins,
but his actions clearly show otherwise.
He sees her as a homosexual-an associate of the powers of
Her third point was Ken's lack of acceptance of guilt for
his actions. He claims to answer to a court higher than
this one. He welcomes the hero status he receives and
blames the victim (Janet) for his crime.
We have every reason to believe he would do it again.
His supporters also answer to a higher court than this one
and tonight in the state of Vermont a woman is without her
The defense gave no response and the judge gave a ruling on
the prosecuter's request for an "enhanced" sentence.
He agreed that Ken's role was substantial but he did not
agree that it had been clearly shown that there was
substantially more expenditure or effort required of the
government in this case.
He gave a 2 level enhancement.
They had sought a 5 level.
The room was quiet as the judge spoke for some time to an
attentive audience-first about the seriousness and sadness
of the offense, but then also about his respect and admiration
for Ken's faith and character.
He said he does not feel Ken is being sentenced for his
religion, but for actions contrary to the law.
As one whose responsibility it is to uphold the laws and to
protect the system of law in this country, he also finds
himself in a dilemna.
Many people commit crimes in the name of religion (even
murder), and if we discard the criminal justice system
because of everyone's personal beliefs, we will have
anarchy-a country without laws.
He finds it painful and hard, but this court must enforce
the law which exists. (I cannot appreciate the derogatory
statements that are made in some comments on public news
sites about judges, especially this judge.)
Judge Sessions said he will sentence Ken the maximum length
of time according to the sentencing guidelines for this crime.
He sentenced him to 27 months imprisonment and 1 year probation.
He waived any fine (which should have been from $6000 to
$60,000) and stipulated that his imprisonment should be in
a minimum security setting near his home in VA if possible.
He also said Ken has the right to appeal his sentence.
There were 2 remaining issues to be decided.
Because Ken chose not to give the testimony the prosecutors
wanted from him in the grand jury several weeks ago, it
resulted in a civil contempt charge and Ken was placed in
prison to reconsider.
On that charge he could be held in prison for up to 18 months.
The judge said Ken has had sufficient time to consider and he
is convinced that more time will not change his mind so he
eliminated the civil contempt charge.
The other issue was a response to a motion filed by the defense asking for a stay of the sentence till after the appeal is
The appeal alleges that according to federal law, it was
improper for Ken to be tried in VT because his crime took
place in VA.
The judge said the appeal raises substantial questions about
the case and could take as long as several years to complete
so he grants the stay and Ken is released to go home for now
subject to the same conditions he was subject to at home
The court was dismissed at about 5:30.
It came as a surprise to all of us that Ken was released for
now and was not held on at least one of the charges.
With grateful hearts, we shared in the graciousness of our
Father in heaven giving Ken the joy of being reunited with
his wife and children.
Such a joy for us all, esp. Ken's family!
His dear wife, Linda, was beaming.
The children were overwhelmed.
Ken's testimony was that they thank God for this experience
which has drawn them closer to God and to eachother.
Ken had no other clothes but his navy blue prison garb so
one of the brothers from Stuarts Draft gave him a coat to
keep him warm and make him more presentable to the news
media as we left the building.
David Bercot, one of the consulting attorneys, explained
the future prospects this way:
> "Two to three years from now, we should receiveIf I understood correctly, one of the defense lawyers in
> a ruling from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
> on our appeal. If they agree with us that venue
> in Vermont was improper, then the federal government
> will have to start over. Such a ruling would erase
> Ken's sentence as well as his felony conviction.
> The government may elect to try Ken in Virginia,
> or they may decide to drop the case. If the Court
> of Appeals rules that venue in Vermont was proper,
> then Ken will have to report to the prison to which
> he will be assigned to begin his sentence."
court mentioned also that the decision by the Court of
Appeals may be appealed to the US Supreme Court.
The air was cold, snowy, a bit raw and blustery, but the
mood was one of quiet jubilant thanksgiving as we gathered
on the street, offered some prayers, and sang a few songs.
Ken spoke to several reporters.
In prayer, Ken acknowledged our Creator God, the love of
Jesus, His gift of life eternal, and prayed for the judge,
for this nation, and for the friends he had anticipated
returning to at the prison in St. Albans, VT. With meaning
in our hearts we sang together, "There is a God He is
alive..., O victory in Jesus my Savior forever..., The
love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever
tell..., Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus..., and I was in
sin's prison O so dark and cold...". The words of the
song "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" were especially
meaningful to my own heart as we sang there on the street.
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord!"
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!
O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me
'Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
I'm so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Will be with me to the end!
The conflict is not over, and it never will be over on this
earth till our Lord returns.
But our conflict is not primarily a fleshly conflict between
people or groups though sometimes we see some of it's effects
It is the struggle of finding and abiding in the grace of Jesus
in a world of sin, of experiencing His salvation continually
in our lives.
It is the struggle of learning how to more fully represent Him
and be of use to Him, dying to our own life, and allowing Him
to impart to us His resurrected life and His eternal wisdom
and to use for His own eternal purposes these lives of ours
which would be forever ruined without His restoring work.
This is God's plan for us, each in the capacity he calls and
enables us to fill, for however long He needs us here.