The first of an estimated four week re-trial for the murder of then 21-year-old Tonya Hart began with strong statements. 28-year-old Meister is charged with the shooting death of Hart and conspiracy to commit murder.
"The killer was David Meister," said Latah County Prosecutor Michelle Evans to the jury. " We know this because not only did he confess to this crime, but other evidence links him to it as well."
Meister was convicted in 2003 for Hart's death and is is currently serving a life sentence for what Evans and police call a murder for hire. During opening arguments, Evans laid out the events of December 11th 2001, when Hart was shot while in her home. Evans pointed to Meister's taped confession as one of the primary pieces of evidence in the case. But Defense attorney Tom Whitney said that confession is false.
"That's what the law enforcement witnesses can be expected to testify to," said Whitney. "What actually occurred in that room is hotly disputed."
During the four week trial, prosecutors will attempt to put jurors in the shoes of the killer. But the defense will try and prove those shoes didn't belong to David Meister.
"David's Osiris shoes don't match the prints left by the murderer left at the scene of the crime," said Whitney. David's Osiris shoes are a size 10. Remember the FBI expert testified the shoes worn by the murderer was eight and a half, nine, or nine and a half."
Shoe prints were found by law enforcement leading to and from Hart's trailer on the night of the murder. But Evans said crime scene investigators improperly gathered evidence of those prints. The debate over the shoes is another vital piece to this 10-year-old puzzle.
"In November and December of 2001, David Meister prepared for and planned the violent death of Tonya Hart," said Evans. "The truth, ladies and gentlemen is exactly why we are here today. That is what these court proceedings are all about."
The prosecution began the presentation of evidence to the 14 member jury. Many of Hart's family took the stand.
Earlier this year the Idaho Supreme Court ordered a new trial after it was discovered evidence was left out of the original trial.