Boy Says Slain Mother, Defendant Got Along : Witness Contradicts Abuse Claim
The 8-year-old half brother of a Canoga Park youth accused of strangling his mother dealt a blow to the apparent defense strategy Tuesday when he testified that his mother and the defendant usually got along well.
The testimony by Rory Rizk in Van Nuys Superior Court contradicted claims by the defense that Torran Lee Meier, 17, was a lifelong victim of physical and mental abuse from his mother.
Earlier Tuesday, another witness testified that Meier’s mother frequently screamed at him, often in the presence of friends and without apparent provocation.
Youth, Two Friends Accused
With the help of two friends, Meier is accused of wrestling his mother, Shirley Ann Rizk, 34, to the floor of her Canoga Park home on Oct. 13, strangling her and then attempting to murder his half brother in order to silence him.
Meier and his friends, Richard Allan Parker, 23, of Antelope Valley and Matthew Adam Jay, 18, of Woodland Hills are charged with murder, attempted murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
Parker and Jay are to be tried separately after Meier’s trial.
Rory, a chubby blond boy from Woodland Hills, squirmed in his seat throughout his two hours on the stand. Several times he leaned back and stared at the ceiling. Rory testified without apparent animosity toward his half brother.
At one point, Rory grinned at Meier, who the prosecution contends tried three times to poison the boy and, when that failed, tried to burn him to death. The older brother, who had looked away when Rory entered the courtroom, smiled back.
Taken to Malibu Cliff
Rory testified that, after he refused to eat food given to him by his brother--food that was later determined to have been laced with rat poison--his brother and the two friends blindfolded him, tied his wrists and drove him to a cliff along Malibu Canyon Road in Malibu.
After placing his mother’s motionless body in the driver’s seat, they set fire to the car and pushed it down a cliff, Rory said.
Rory testified that, as fire raged around the car, he snuggled next to his mother’s body because “If I’m going to die, I’m going to die with my mom.”
But, after a moment, the boy said, he discovered the car’s electric windows worked, and he escaped.
Claims of Abuse
James Barnes, deputy public defender, told jurors in his opening statement last week he would show that, for years, Meier had been subjected to “repeated yelling and screaming” and was constantly degraded in the presence of his friends.
But, when Barnes questioned Rory on the subject during cross-examination, the boy said his mother screamed at his brother “not very often,” adding, “She did talk to him a little.”
In response to another question from Barnes, the boy said his mother and brother got along well “most of the time.”
Earlier, Michael Mendelsohn, 19, of Canoga Park, a longtime friend of Meier’s, testified that Shirley Rizk frequently screamed at her elder son, calling him a “fag,” a “moron” and an “idiot.”