Dad didn’t fire fatal shot, but on trial in death of daughter
By MATT MILLER
WILLIAMSPORT — Should a father who didn’t pull the trigger be held responsible for the gunshot that killed his 12-year-old daughter?
A jury in Lycoming County will delve into that question this week as it weighs the homicide case against Donald Meyer Jr. of Duncannon.
It will be one of the midstate’s more unusual murder trials.
Meyer, 60, is accused of prompting a state constable to fire the shot that killed Meyer’s daughter, Ciara, during a confrontation in January 2016.
The constable was serving an eviction notice at the Meyer home. State police said he fired his pistol at Donald Meyer when Meyer pointed a rifle at him.
The bullet went through Meyer’s arm and struck Ciara, who was standing behind him. A video police obtained showed Ciara pleading with her dad to put down the rifle just before she was killed.
Although the Perry County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute Meyer, his trial will be held in the Lycoming County Courthouse with a jury to be selected from that county on Tuesday. Testimony will then begin.
Perry County Judge Kenneth A. Mumma ordered Meyer to be tried in another county after court-appointed defense attorney Jerry Philpott sought the transfer based on publicity surrounding the case. The state Supreme Court chose Lycoming as the venue for Meyer’s trial.
Meyer is charged with homicide, aggravated assault, illegally possessing a firearm, involuntary manslaughter, simple assault, making terroristic threats and reckless endangerment.
He faces separate charges filed in Dauphin County for fraudulently acquiring firearms. In that case, investigators claim Meyer violated the law by failing to disclose when he bought six guns in Dauphin and Lancaster counties that he had been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment. That commitment occurred in November 2011 after Meyer was accused of threatening to kill himself and his family, records show.
Meyer did undergo a court-ordered psychiatric examination after being charged in the murder case and was deemed competent to stand trial.