Marlin Meyer of Ravenwood was sentenced Wednesday to 4 years in prison for the April 24th, 2017 vehicular death of Virginia Burns of Parnell. The Atchison County judge (Cody Herron) in the case then placed Meyer in the shock incarceration program which means the court could release Meyer after serving 120 days in prison. He would then be placed on 5 years probation. Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice said in part regarding the sentence, “I asked for 4 years. The judge essentially ordered 4 months. This is a disgusting and unacceptable sentence to me….This makes me sick.” The maximum sentence for 2nd degree involuntary manslaughter is 4 years in prison or up to 1 year in the county jail, up to a $10,000 fine or any combination of Incarceration or fines.
RICE CRITICIZES JUDGE’S SENTENCE AFTER MEYER CONVICTED OF INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER
Maryville, Mo. – Missouri law requires after a person is convicted of a criminal offense, the final decision on the sentence is made by a judge either with a jury’s recommendation or without. On June 6th, 2018, an Atchison County jury found Marlin Meyer guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2nd degree following a 2-day trial. On April 24, 2017, Meyer drove his Steiger 385 tractor that towed a 5300 Nutriplacer field applicator and an anhydrous tank during pre-dawn darkness on Missouri Highway 46. The farm machinery was too wide to fit in the lane of traffic on that highway. Missouri law forbids driving a wide-load on a highway during the dark time. Besides the width of the farm machinery, the field applicator’s wings were down and completely blocking both lanes of traffic on the highway for a distance of 3.8 miles. Meyer knocked over 3 mailboxes while on the highway before the fatality crash that killed Virginia Burns.
Virginia Burns, 60, Parnell, was going to work at Kawasaki from her home which she had done for the past 19 years. She was a two-term mayor of Parnell and actively involved in numerous civic, church, and youth activities. Virginia drove on Missouri Highway 46 and headed to Maryville at pre-dawn darkness and right towards Meyer’s tractor and field applicator. The crash area was 3.8 miles from where the first mailbox had been knocked down by the applicator. There was a hill with Meyer on one side, Burns on the other, and each driving towards each other. Burns was driving the speed limit and saw the tractor and applicator approximately 3 seconds before impact. Burns swerved her car to the right-hand side of the shoulder and into the ditch to avoid Meyer’s applicator. A Missouri State Highway Patrol Crash reconstructionist found tracks from Burns’ vehicle driving off of the lane and into the right-hand shoulder/ditch. Meyer’s applicator wings blocked the lane of traffic plus went into the shoulder and ditch area on the other side of the road. Burns was not able to avoid the application and crashed into it. The force of the tractor dragged Burns’ vehicle back onto the highway. The applicator’s blades amputated Virginia’s arm and killed her. Meyer told Trooper Dale Reuter that he must have unintentionally lowered the wings and claimed he did not know they were down. The tractor he rode in had glass walls on all sides so he could clearly look back if he wanted to do so. In addition, there were accounts that Meyer drove his farm equipment in an unsafe manner on the highway both before the crash and once after the crash.
Involuntary Manslaughter in the 2nd degree carries a maximum range of punishment up to 4 years in prison or up to 1 year in the county jail, up to a $10,000.00 fine, or any combination of incarceration and fines.
Sentencing was scheduled for July 11, 2018, at 1:30pm, in the Atchison County courthouse. The sentencing hearing lasted approximately 2 hours. A state’s witness included his account of Meyer operating a farm vehicle into the oncoming lane of traffic years before the crash. He also gave an account of what his wife experienced with Meyer. Several of Virginia’s family members testified and gave victim impact statements that described the loss of their wife, mother, and sister.
The defendant said to the Burns family and his family that he was “deeply sorry.”
Robert (Bob) L. Rice, Prosecuting Attorney of Nodaway County, recommended the court impose a maximum prison sentence of 4 years with the Missouri Department of Corrections. Meyer’s attorney recommended probation. Following the sentencing recommendation, the judge gave a lengthy description of what he found the evidence to show and essentially sided with every point made by the prosecution.
The judge ordered Meyer to serve 4 years in prison with the Missouri Department of Corrections but retained jurisdiction pursuant to Section 559.115 RSMo. and placed the defendant in the shock incarceration program. This means that the court could release the defendant after he served 120 days in prison and then place him on 5 years of probation with several directives to ensure future compliance of the law.
“The State asked for a maximum sentence – and no probation whatsoever – to punish Meyer for killing Virginia and to send the very clear message that a person that repeatedly drives wide equipment blocking the road ends up killing someone will not be tolerated, “ said Rice.
“I asked for 4 years. The judge essentially ordered 4 months. This is a disgusting and unacceptable sentence to me,” said Rice.
Rice concluded, “Meyer will most likely be released before Thanksgiving this year. He was out of jail on bond pending the trial. This sentence means Meyer won’t even miss one holiday after killing another person. This makes me sick.”
Following the Judge’s decision, Meyer’s attorney requested a stay for a few days so his client could “get his affairs in order” before going to prison. Rice objected. Meyer’s request was overruled and he was taken into custody by the Atchison County Sheriff’s office. Meyer will be transported to the Nodaway County Sheriff’s office where he will await transport to prison.