Prosecutor: Meier wasn’t coerced or confined
MINDEN – Arguments on whether jurors should hear statements that murder suspect Monte Meier made to investigators concluded Tuesday, with prosecutor Tom Perkins claiming Meier’s “will was never overcome.”
Meier, 57, is to be tried April 7 on charges of murder, possession of a forged instrument and destruction of evidence. He is charged with the murder of his wife, Julie Meier, whose body was found in a shallow grave in the backyard of the couple’s Hawthorne Way home in Stateline.
His lawyer, Terri Roeser, has asked Douglas District Judge Dave Gamble to suppress statements Meier made to investigators while they were searching the home May 16, 1996. The officers had a search warrant, but Roeser contends they did not advise Meier of his constitutional rights even though they conducted what she termed an “interrogation.”
She also says Meier was effectively under arrest during the hours the search warrant was executed because officers stayed with him and would not have let him drive away because he had been drinking, an act Roeser also says invalidated any consent Meier may have given to answer questions.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins countered Tuesday that Meier refused to tell investigators where Julie Meier’s body was, and at one point challenged the officers to arrest him, which they didn’t do.
“That speaks volumes,” said Perkins. “It’s very clear to me from the answers that he gave that his will was not overcome. The only thing that happened that was remotely incriminating was when the officers discovered the grave and took him out and he revealed that was her body.”
Meier was formally arrested after the body was discovered. Roeser says he led investigators to it after “several hours of interrogation.”
“This whole scenario was not set up to elicit information,” said Perkins. “This isn’t really a confession. There’s no police misconduct here.”
He also said Meier’s consumption of alcohol had no effect on the man’s actions.
“His state of intoxication doesn’t deprive him of doing what he wants to do,” said Perkins. “You ask about the effect of his intoxication on his will? Not very much.”
He also said investigators didn’t confine Meier to any particular place, because Meier only used the living room and kitchen of the house.
“He was there anyway. That’s where he spent all his time,” said Perkins.
“I don’t think there is one bit of credible evidence that Mr. Meier did not think he was free to go. “
District Judge Dave Gamble said he’s “concerned about the effect of the alcohol,” and its impact on the “viability” of any warnings Meier was given, as well as his “ability to participate voluntarily.”
Still, “he was very well able to continue in his refusal to give them information,” Gamble noted.
Gamble said he will likely rule on the motion later this week.
Meier remains in the Douglas County jail, where he has been since his arrest.
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