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Defendant Confesses - Van Wagner gets him off. Under Wisconsin law, murder is a Class A Felony; the penalty is up to life imprisonment. Many called Meng's acquittal (not guilty verdict) the second OJ Simpson trial. Meng all but confessed to committing murder and hiding the corpse, but the jury acquitted. Van Wagner says the jury believed his client.

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Robert Meng Acquitted Of Murder

Defendant Confesses, Jury Acquits

After an accidental shooting, Meng was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and negligent handling of a dangerous weapon. The jury acquitted (found Meng not guilty) of both murder (first-degree intentional homicide) and negligent handling of a dangerous weapon. Meng's attorney, Chris Van Wagner, said that the jury believed Meng. The jury sees all of the evidence and hears all of the testimony. Sometimes, a person just needs to be sitting on the jury and hearing the evidence presented in defense of a murder charge to understand a not guilty verdict.

Robert Meng's lucky day came Friday when the Bagley farmer was found not guilty in the shooting death of his girlfriend -- but guilty of burning her body to hide her death.

Meng gave police several accounts of what happened October 8 when Patricia Day Schreiner of Patch Grove, Wisconsin was killed in a trailer on Meng's 300-acre dairy farm. During the trial, however, Meng told the jury the shooting was accidental -- he didn't handle guns very much, and he didn't know the trigger safety was off. So, Meng said, he burned Schreiner's body out of fear no one would believe the shooting was accidental. For good measure, he also burned and buried her car.

Not since the O.J. Simpson trial has a defendant found a more believing jury. On the charge of first-degree homicide, the 12 jurors could not reach a unanimous decision. On the much less serious charge of negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, the jury found Meng not guilty -- even though he virtually admitted as much himself.

"The jury believed what Bob Meng told them about the shooting and that he lied to police when he was arrested," Meng's attorney, Chris Van Wagner, said moments after the verdict was announced. Obviously so.

Wisconsin State Journal. Reprinted with permission.
Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Related Topics:
Murder | Homicide | What does it mean to be a juror?
Attorney Chris Van Wagner