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Meier attorneys will appeal

Christy Chalmers

MINDEN – Monte Meier’s second-degree murder conviction will be appealed even though it’s “a victory,” one of his lawyers said Tuesday.

“They were trying to put our guy away for life without the possibility of parole, and now he will be eligible in five years,” said attorney Michael Roeser. “It’s a victory for us as much as it would be for them.”

A Douglas County jury returned the verdict late Monday, finding Meier guilty of second-degree murder and forgery.

Roeser and his wife, Terri Steik Roeser, represented Meier, 57, a former Stateline resident. The body of Meier’s late wife, Julie, was found buried in the back yard of the couple’s Hawthorne Way home May 16, 1996.

Prosecutor Tom Perkins successfully argued that Meier killed his wife, then forged her name so he could sell the house. Roeser alleged Julie Meier died of alcohol-related liver failure.

No definitive cause of death has been established, and Michael Roeser said that will be a key element of the planned appeal.

“We will appeal on the cause of death. There’s going to be a lot more litigation,” he said. “We still think there’s a lot of issues on appeal that we’ll have to address.”

District Judge David Gamble will sentence Meier June 10. He faces life in prison and will not be eligible for parole for at least five years. The forgery conviction carries a sentence of up to five years.

The eight-man, four-woman jury that convicted Meier deliberated less than five hours. One of the jurors said Tuesday that most agreed on the second-degree murder charge.

“I think just about everybody was in agreement on two,” said juror Frank Williams. “A couple of people wanted to go stronger, but I wasn’t too comfortable with that.”

Williams said the defense’s star witness, forensic expert Michael Baden, left an “unfavorable impression” on him.

“It was mainly because he was negating everyone’s testimony on his own,” said Williams. Baden, who testified Julie Meier died of liver failure, often interrupted Perkins and on occasion had to be silenced by Judge Gamble.

Still, “there was no one testimony that made it any one way,” Williams said. “The basic thing is (Julie) had so much trauma and so much damage, it was just tough to attribute that just to falling down. It was too much to swallow.”

Multiple rib fractures were found on Julie Meier’s body, along with a broken throat bone which prosecution witnesses said is often broken by strangulation. Roeser presented witnesses who characterized Julie Meier as a “falling-down drunk” who often stumbled into and over walls and furniture, causing the injuries.

When the jury took a poll, said Williams, “It was pretty much a large percentage of unanimous for second-degree (murder).”


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