'Annie' Meyer murder case nets 20-year sentence

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LeAnn "Annie" Meyer's life was lost over an argument that had to do with yard work.

That's according to court documents in the criminal case against Melissa Miller — Meyer's former lover — who on Nov. 27 was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for striking Meyer in the head along a dirt road in Park County, before leaving the Wheat Ridge woman for dead.

Miller's 20-year prison sentence began after pleading guilty to second-degree murder inside a Fairplay courthouse.

"Of course it's not exactly what we wanted," Mark Meyer, Annie's brother, said prior to the hearing. "But it's closure for us. The plea bargain allows us to take the pain away more quickly."

Meyer, 51, A Minnesota native who once served in the Air Force and who later became a bank technology expert in Colorado, had been missing since February before authorities found her remains on a private property near Bailey in July.

For months, Miller, 55 — who had remained friends and roommates with Meyer after the two had previously shared an intimate relationship — had either denied having anything to do with Meyer's death or refused to talk to police. She finally admitted to her involvement to authorities during a July 15 interview, according to a Park County Sheriff's Office arrest warrant affidavit that was recently obtained by Colorado Community Media.

Miller told police that, for several days leading up to their altercation, she and Meyer "had been arguing about the cost of work that she was going to be doing in the back yard (of their Wheat Ridge residence)." That ongoing argument ended violently on Feb. 18, after the two had taken a drive through the mountains, "before coming to a stop on a winding dirt road near Bailey … " the affidavit states.

During the argument, which took place along Park County Road 64, Meyer either "poked" or "hit" Miller. Miller retaliated by swinging a walking stick toward Meyer, which struck her in the head, causing her to bleed and eventually stop breathing. Miller told police that she tried to stop the bleeding "by wrapping Saran Wrap" around Meyer's head, but to no avail.

Miller told the detective that at one point, Meyer's body rolled down the hill from the road. Miller said she started to drive away, then went back toward Meyer, but was unable to locate her.

Miller admitted that she never called for Meyer and never tried to find help. She said that she returned to the area a couple of weeks later, but could not find her.

Had the case gone to trial, Miller could have faced a sentencing range of 16 to 48 years behind bars. Instead, the parties came to an agreement on Miller serving 20 years with the Department of Corrections.

"The District Attorney's Office of the 11th Judicial District consulted at length with the victim's family and the law enforcement officers prior to reaching the plea agreement," said District Attorney Thom LeDoux, whose jurisdiction includes Park County. "Under all of the applicable circumstances the District Attorney's Office, believes that the plea agreement represents a just resolution of the case."

Wheat Ridge Police Department Division Chief Jim Lorentz expressed his sympathy to Meyer's family, prior to the Nov. 27 hearing.

"We wanted to find Annie healthy and happy, and it didn't work out that way," Lorentz said. "But at least we have a conclusion."

As for Mark Meyer, he said he's going to make sure that Miller receives every minute of the 20 years of her sentence.

"Our family will be there at every parole hearing there is," he said.

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