Meier guilty of murder, forgery
MINDEN – A Douglas County jury took less than five hours Monday to convict Monte Lorane Meier of second-degree murder and forgery.
The eight-man, four-woman panel delivered its verdict at 8 p.m. after beginning deliberations just after 3:30 p.m.
Meier showed little emotion when the verdict was read. He stood talking quietly with his lawyers, tugging at the restraining leg brace he wore under his street clothes throughout the trial, before walking back to the holding cell at the front of the courtroom.
Meier, 57, was arrested when his late wife Julie’s body was unearthed May 16, 1996, in the yard of the couple’s Hawthorne Way home in Stateline. He was charged with forgery after investigators found Julie Meier’s name signed to documents related to the sale of the house.
Meier told investigators he awoke one morning in January 1994, found Julie dead on the floor of their home and buried her, fearing he would be blamed. He later explained her disappearance by saying she had gone to Southern Nevada to work.
A definitive cause of death has not been established. Prosecutor Tom Perkins argued Monte Meier beat or strangled Julie Meier to death, pointing to a broken throat bone experts testified is fractured by strangulation in most cases.
Meier’s attorney, Terri Steik Roeser, claimed Julie Meier died of alcohol-related liver failure, a conclusion supported by Michael Baden, a well-known forensics expert.
Roeser had no comment following the verdict.
“I think it’s a fair verdict,” said Perkins.
In his closing statement, Perkins characterized Julie Meier’s broken throat bone as “the signature of a killer,” and called Baden “a clown from New York” who was “contemptuous” of other examiners’ conclusions.
“What we found inside of her body is the signature of a killer,” said Perkins. “The signature of someone who used physical force to shut her up, to destroy her life.”
Meier buried his wife, said Perkins, because “he knew that her body held the secret of what he did. He wasn’t going to take responsibility for her death.”
Court testimony showed the Meiers were both heavy drinkers, and Monte Meier told investigators he suffered from blackouts.
“Voluntary intoxication is not an excuse,” said Perkins. “Intoxication does not excuse the commission of a murder. The fact that someone doesn’t remember what they did doesn’t change it.”
Perkins alleged Monte Meier abused his wife, backing it with testimony from family and friends who said they saw bruises on the woman. An adult daughter, Monica Richardson, testified that during a phone call she heard her father order her mother to hang up the phone or he would “kill” her.
In her closing argument, Roeser attacked the investigators’ procedures and argued Perkins hadn’t proven Meier’s intent, let alone that Julie Meier was murdered.
“What motive was there?” asked Roeser. “These people had absolutely nothing except each other. Why would he get rid of the only thing he had? The answer is he wouldn’t, and he didn’t.”
She described multiple rib fractures found in Julie Meier’s skeleton as “irrelevant.”
Meier will be sentenced June 10. He faces life in prison for the murder conviction, with a minimum of five years before he is eligible for parole. The forgery conviction carries a five-year sentence.
He remains in the Douglas County jail.
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