A Stateline man convicted of killing his wife and burying her body in their back yard will get his first chance at parole early next year.
Monte Meier was convicted three years ago of second-degree murder in the death of his wife Julie.
There was testimony from his daughters during the trial that Meier, 60, frequently abused the woman during their marriage - mostly after he had been drinking.
She disappeared in 1994. The body was discovered in 1996 after the couple's daughter Mendi Dunning reported that her father had said the mother was "buried not 10 feet away" from where he was sitting. When investigators showed up, he led them to the makeshift grave behind the house.
Meier told police he awoke one morning in January 1994 to find his wife dead of an apparent head injury. He admitted burying her outside the home but maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
Testimony during the trial painted a picture of a dysfunctional relationship in which both husband and wife abused alcohol. The key defense expert in the case testified that Julie Meier probably died of alcohol-related liver failure. While the cause of death wasn't positively established, experts said there was evidence the victim suffered physical damage including cracked ribs and broken teeth consistent with being beaten.
Meier was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in July 1997.
Now Meier has his first chance at parole on the murder conviction. He will get a hearing before the parole board in January.
Even if he were granted parole - which officials say is unlikely at the first hearing in a murder case - that would just start the clock on Meier's other sentence. Judge David Gamble ordered he also serve a consecutive four-year term for trying to forge his wife's name on documents to sell the couple's home.