Investigators reads Iryn Meyers' purported confession

BATH — Jurors in the Iryn Meyers second-degree murder trial on Monday heard the most detailed description yet of what allegedly happened in the last few hours at 9458 New Galen Road, Wayland, before a structure fire at that address killed 60-year-old David N. O’Dell on Feb. 15, 2016.

The accounts of that night — supplied by Iryn Meyers in two purported confessions to State Police investigators on March 21 and March 30, 2016 — detail a series of late night and early morning visits to O’Dell’s residence by Joseph and Iryn Meyers.

The statements read to the jury Monday were not part of Joseph Meyers’ trial in May. A Steuben County jury deliberated less than one day before convicting Joseph Meyers of first-degree murder and arson for O’Dell’s death. He was sentenced in July to spend 23 years to life in state prison.

Anticipating this testimony coming into the trial, Iryn Meyers’ defense attorney Brenda Smith Aston in her opening statement asked the jury to consider whether the confession was voluntary or whether her client was “tricked” by investigators.

During those stops at O’Dell’s home around midnight on Feb. 14, 2016, and 1 a.m., on Feb. 15, Joseph Meyers made two attempts to start the house on fire, according to Iryn Meyers’ statement, which was read to the jury by State Police Inv. Thomas Khork.

Iryn Meyers had purchased the home from O’Dell several months earlier and was living in the residence up until the time of the fire, according to earlier testimony in the trial. She said, according to her statement, that her husband “started a bench on fire across from her bedroom” but that fire did not spread to the rest of the house.

Some time later, while she sat in her car, she said she “heard Joe and David both say there was smoke in the house.” She said Joseph Meyers told O’Dell to go to bed and he would take care of the smoke.

Continuing the statement, Iryn Meyers described a return trip to New Galen Road a short while later, and a second attempt by Joseph Meyers to start the house on fire. After returning from the house, Joseph Meyers told her “the house was going to be on fire this time.” He also reassured her, saying “there were no witnesses unless I (Iryn) run my mouth.”

In her March 30 statement, Iryn Meyers provided additional details about the second attempt to start a fire. She said they returned to Joseph Meyers’ residence/business at Loon Lake Services, where Joseph retrieved “bags” to place over his boots “so he wouldn’t leave tracks,” gloves and some other items. She said she dropped Joseph Meyers back off at the New Galen Road residence, and then drove around for a while after he went back into the house.

Some minutes later she picked him up as he walked along New Galen Road. Joseph Meyers said, according to Iryn Meyers’ statement, that O’Dell was in bed sleeping and “wasn’t going to wake up.” She asked him where the fire was, and he said it “started in the wood stove” in the basement.

She told investigators, according to the statement, that Joseph Meyers later burned up some evidence, including the clothes he was wearing that night.

She also told investigators, according to the statement, that she and Joseph discussed the video surveillance system at his Loon Lake property and whether authorities would be able to view their comings and goings in the hours before the fire. 

“We will be fine,” Joseph Meyers told her, according to Iryn’s statement to investigators, believing the DVR system stored old video for only ten days.

A State Police Computer Crime Unit investigator testified later Monday that the surveillance system was seized in a search warrant on March 7, 2016. Allison Regan previewed some of the video for the jury, including images of the couple driving to and away from the Loon Lake residence several times between 11:15 p.m., Feb. 14, 2016 and 1:17 a.m., Feb. 15.

The fire was first reported at approximately 4:40 a.m. Feb. 15. A US Postal Service worker on his way to his job in Henrietta came upon the scene. The house was fully involved, according to that first witness, with a portion of a north wall the only part of the frame still standing.

Asked about the reason for burning the house, Iryn Meyers said “money. Joe has so much debt and big dreams.”

Khork testified that Iryn Meyers gave her accounts to investigators at the Steuben County Jail, where she was being held on a charge of filing a false written statement about the fire. William J. Kelley, Iryn Meyers’ assigned counsel at that time, was present for both interviews, as was one of Kelley’s investigators, according to Khork’s testimony. Khork said the March 21 meeting with Mrs. Meyers was requested by Iryn, and she was read a Miranda warning before and during the statement.

The couple, according to the March 21, 2016, statement to Khork and Hurd, first discussed setting fire to the house in December of 2015 but didn’t act right away.

“We were hoping that David would burn the house down himself,” Iryn Meyers said, according to the statement.

Both trials have included testimony that the day before the fire Joseph Meyers went to his friend’s house at about noon and accused O’Dell of taking a company check and stealing $40 from a tool box at Loon Lake Services, Meyers’ business. Meyers fired O’Dell from his job at that meeting, telling him not to return to the Loon Lake property.

Defense cross-examination

Aston questioned Khork about some details of Iryn Meyers’ questioning. Aston asked Khork if her client knew she was being investigated for arson and murder, pointing out that it is never mentioned in the statement. Khork acknowledged it is not in the statement, but he insisted she was told the purpose of the interview.

Aston asked Khork if someone at the March 30 interview said, “(District Attorney) Brooks (Baker) wants more or Brooks wasn’t satisfied?”

The investigator answered that he could not remember.

Aston also asked if Iryn Meyers had read her statement aloud? Khork said she did not; she read it to herself.

Aston also suggested that Iryn Meyers asked investigators “for a hint” of what to say, and she asked if someone told Iryn that telling the truth “would set her free.” Khork said she was told repeatedly to tell the truth, but was not given any information and was not told the truth would set her free.