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Accused in Mother’s Slaying : Meier: Partial Acquittal

Times Staff Writer

A 17-year-old Canoga Park youth was found not guilty of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of his mother and not guilty of the attempted murder of his half brother in partial verdicts announced by a jury Monday.

The Van Nuys Superior Court jury was instructed to continue deliberating today on lesser charges in the trial of Torran Lee Meier.

The jury must now consider whether Meier is guilty of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, or innocent of both charges, in the death of his mother, Shirley A. Rizk, 34.

They must also weigh the lesser charges of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury in connection with Meier’s half brother, Rory Rizk, 8.

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In announcing the partial verdict, the jury foreman told Judge George Xanthos that she doubts the jurors will be able to agree on a verdict in the death of Shirley Rizk. She did say, however, that continued deliberations could yield a unanimous vote on the count involving Rory Rizk.

Deliberating Two Weeks

Two counts of conspiracy to commit murder also must be considered by the jury, which has been deliberating for two weeks. Jurors have not been told, however, that conspiracy to commit murder carries the same penalty as first-degree murder: 25 years to life in state prison.

According to testimony, Meier and two friends strangled his mother in October and placed her body in a burning car that was pushed over a cliff in Malibu.

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Because Rory Rizk had witnessed part of the strangulation, Meier attempted to feed him a poisoned sandwich, then placed him in the burning car next to his mother’s body, according to testimony. Rory escaped unharmed.

Tormented Constantly

Defense witnesses testified that Shirley Rizk tormented Meier with constant verbal abuse, and that Meier finally cracked under pressure.

Deputy Public Defender James H. Barnes argued that Meier never intended to harm Rory but staged what looked like a murder to dupe his two friends, who were “desperate to avoid detection.”

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The two friends, alleged to be Meier’s accomplices, are Richard A. Parker, 24, of Antelope Valley and Matthew A. Jay, 18, of Woodland Hills. They will be tried later.


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