Meridian man charged with killing wife has bail set at $2 million

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Here are some signs you may be in an abusive relationship, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
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Here are some signs you may be in an abusive relationship, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated since its original post. The children in the home were not present at the time of the shooting.

The 42-year-old man arrested by Meridian police on Tuesday night after he reportedly told authorities that he killed his wife is being held at the Ada County Jail on $2 million bail.

Fourth District Judge David Manweiler scheduled Eric James Steiner’s preliminary hearing for 8:30 a.m. March 18 after setting bond. He also appointed a public defender to represent Steiner.

The victim was identified as Christine Steiner, 41, according to a release from the Ada County Coroner’s Office. She died from a gunshot wound to the head, the coroner said. The weapon used was a 9mm handgun, a Meridian police spokesman told the Statesman.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Brett Judd asked at the arraignment hearing for Steiner to be held without bail, and said in court that Steiner has made suicidal comments to police. For those reasons, Steiner could be a danger to the public, Judd said.

Police responded at around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday to the 500 block of East Chateau Drive and found an adult woman dead in the bathroom from an apparent gunshot wound. Steiner, the person who called police, was arrested and later booked into Ada County Jail on a charge of first-degree murder, according to a news release from the Meridian Police Department.

Two children, a 17-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, live in the house but were not home at the time of the shooting, according to police. They were home when Steiner surrendered and was arrested. Both children were uninjured.

The girl is an exchange student, Meridian Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea told the Statesman.

“We are not releasing the country at this time, so we don’t identify her,” he said. She is now staying with a coordinator from her exchange company, who is notifying her family, Basterrechea said.

Police said Wednesday morning that Steiner shot his wife Tuesday when the kids were at school and a day-care facility.

The motive for the shooting remains unclear.

Steiner was arrested under the subsection of first-degree murder that the alleged homicide “perpetrated or premeditated by poison, torture, vengeance, extortion or sadistic inclinations,” according to his jail booking record.

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Ruth Brown

Idaho court records show no apparent criminal history for Steiner in this state.

On Wednesday morning, the home where the shooting occurred was still taped off with crime scene tape, including a vehicle parked out front.

Domestic violence in Idaho

This is the second domestic homicide in Meridian this year. In January, Boisean Edward Lynn Epps Jr. shot and killed Heidi De Leon, 40, and Jose De Leon, 47, before turning the gun on himself after a standoff at a home in the 4900 block of West Charles Street. In that case, children were in the home at the time of the killings.

Epps had been served a protection order taken out by his ex-wife, Heidi De Leon, only hours before he killed the De Leons.

In November, a married couple was found dead of an apparent murder-suicide in Meridian. Elizabeth Boone, 69, filed for divorce from Michael Boone, 71, days before he shot her and then himself, police reported.

The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence provides a list of several warning signs for an increased level of dangerousness in violent relationships.

The level of danger increases if there is a history of domestic violence, attempted strangulation, forced sex, abuse during pregnancy, or threats to kill the victim or their children. The level of danger also increases if the abuser has made threats of suicide or if there has been a recent separation in the relationship or with employment. Obsessive, controlling or coercive behavior, or stalking and monitoring a victim are also signs of increased danger in a relationship.

Alcohol or drug use by the abuser or prior contact with law enforcement may also increase the level of danger.

The Faces of Hope Victim Center also offers resources to victims in need, including medical care and temporary shelter resources. Advocates are available to help victims make safety plans if a victim is not yet ready to leave their partner.

“Knowledge is power,” said Jean Fisher, the COO of Faces. “Victims need to know that the most dangerous time for them is immediately after threatening to leave or actually leaving. Domestic violence offenders hate losing control and the ultimate loss of control is when the victim leaves.

“Lethality and dangerousness of violence increases dramatically during this period so having a safety plan is necessary,” Fisher said. “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent.”

Fisher said 72 percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner and 94 percent of the victims of murder-suicides are female.

“These are alarming statistics and they prove why a safety plan is so vital,” she said.

Are you or someone you know in need of help?

The Faces of Hope Victim Center is available for victims in need of emergency services at 417 S. 6th St. in Boise. Victims should call 911 in emergencies or call 208-577-4400 on weekdays during business hours. Faces of Hope provides free medical care and forensic examinations for victims, as well as assistance with filing police reports and mental health care.

The Boise Women’s and Children’s Alliance operates two 24-hour hotlines. The domestic violence hotline can be reached at 208-343-7025 and the sexual assault crisis hotline can be reached at 208-345-7273.

The WCA provides free, confidential services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including secure shelter and transitional housing, professional counseling, legal advocacy, safety planning, licensed child care, financial literacy and life skills training, and case management services.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1−800−799−7233.

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.