CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. - The adoptive mother of a young man who was shaken as a baby 20 years ago is now mourning his death.
"First and foremost, that kid had a smile that could light up a room. That’s what I miss the most,” Michelle Miller said.
Kurtis Reed-Miller never had it easy.
“He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He had very little voluntary movement. Everything we did with him had to be hand over hand,” Miller said.
His injuries were caused when he was shaken by his biological mother, Teresa Gill, at just five months old.
“Kurtis Reed-Miller never recovered from the injuries he received in 1998, and remained debilitated during his entire life,” said Cumberland County District Attorney "Skip" Ebert.
Medically speaking, Kurtis spent most of his 20-year life in a nearly vegetative state.
But that’s not the way his adoptive mom sees it.
“He just captured our hearts. And we were determined just to love him. And he deserved that," Miller said.
Miller adopted Kurtis when he was just six months old.
Kurtis died in May 2018 of aspiration pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis resulting from complications of his injuries.
Gill is now charged with third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.
Miller said she thinks Gill needs to pay for what she did, both in jail time and restitution, and she hopes Kurtis can serve as an example of what can happen in a momentary lapse of judgment.
But she said she is thankful for every day she got to spend with Kurtis, adding he was the one who changed her life and the lives of everyone who met him.
“Our main objective in all of this was to love him and for him to give back. And we were able to do that through sharing his story,” Miller said.
Miller is now a caseworker for Centre County Children and Youth, which she said was inspired by Kurtis.
As for Gill, a preliminary hearing will be held at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning in Carlisle.