DA: Father killed son in self-defense
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said Friday that he won’t pursue criminal charges against a 75-year-old father who shot and killed his adult son after the father said he was attacked in bed at the family’s Grand Junction home in February.
“Given the totality of the circumstances I am in fact convinced that Gary Meier was acting reasonably and legally when he took the actions he did,” Hautzinger wrote in a letter to Grand Junction police detective Sean Crocker. “Given the consistent and escalating pattern of aggressive, unpredictable and violent behavior displayed by Garth Meier, I am hard pressed to see how Gary Meier could have done anything differently.”
The DA’s letter continues, “It is certainly tragic when any human being is forced to shoot and kill another human being and that tragedy is multiplied exponentially when a father and son are involved.”
In his interview with police early Feb. 17, Gary Meier told police that violence allegedly displayed by his 48-year-old son, Garth, on the night of his death was just the latest example of drug-addled behavior.
Gary Meier, who lives at 688 29 1/2 Road, told police his son burst into his bedroom “screaming and yelling” about a reportedly missing picture after Gary and his wife, Sharon, had settled down for bed, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by The Daily Sentinel.
“Gary said Sharon got up out of bed and the argument continued upstairs, downstairs and on the stairs,” the affidavit said.
Gary Meier said he saw his wife standing in the doorway of their bedroom, where his son had a hand around her neck. Gary Meier said he grabbed a .25-caliber (Beretta) out of his nightstand “and put it under the covers.”
“Gary said Garth grabbed a coat hanger off the back of the door, which is about 14 to 18 inches in length with about six to eight hooks on it, and on the end of the hooks were steel balls,” the affidavit said. “Garth took the coat hanger and hit the foot of the bed numerous times and starting working his way up the bed toward Gary. Gary said Garth struck him in the head twice with the coat hanger and Gary fired the weapon once striking Garth in the chest.”
Garth Meier’s body was found by officers in the doorway of his parents’ bedroom, the affidavit said. The Mesa County Coroner’s Office said Meier died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Officers who arrived on scene observed that Gary Meier had a gash on his forehead and other lacerations.
The son had a room in the home, while officers observed drug paraphernalia, including a filled syringe, in the bedroom of Gary and Sharon Meier, the affidavit said. Gary Meier told officers he’d seen drugs and associated paraphernalia inside his son’s room.
“Gary Meier reported to Sgt. Baker that his son had a drug problem and has no intentions of stopping,” the affidavit said.
He told officers his son’s demeanor had become more angry and aggressive in recent months. Gary Meier added that he feared for his and his wife’s safety whenever his son flew into a rage and that Garth had “worked him over” several times months before.
“Gary said he does not like to fight with his kids so he just defends himself,” the affidavit said.
Three weeks before the shooting, Gary Meier told officers his son had hit him in the mouth with a Glock .33-caliber handgun.