Charles “Chase” Merritt was sentenced to loss of life on Tuesday after being convicted of murdering a whole household and dumping their our bodies in a shallow Southern California desert grave in 2010.
Merritt, 62, was convicted in June of killing his enterprise affiliate, Joseph McStay, and his household over a financial dispute. Merritt was discovered responsible on 4 counts of first-degree homicide, for the deaths of McStay, McStay’s spouse Summer season, and the couple’s 3- and 4-year-old sons.
Prosecutors mentioned Merritt used a sledgehammer to kill his victims as a result of he owed Joseph McStay cash and was being minimize out of their enterprise, which was making and promoting customized water fountains.
The McStays have been lacking since February 2010, however their our bodies have been ultimately found in 2013. A motorcyclist stumbled upon their skeletal stays within the Mojave Desert and located the homicide weapon alongside them. Merritt was later arrested in 2014.
Prosecutors mentioned monetary data present Merritt tried to loot the enterprise’ financial institution accounts simply earlier than, and after, the household disappeared. He even backdated checks to Feb. 4, 2010, which was the final day anybody had contact with Joseph McStay.
After the jury beneficial the loss of life penalty, San Bernardino County Superior Courtroom Choose Michael Smith upheld their choice following a two-day sentencing listening to, The Related Press reported.
Merritt’s legal professionals reportedly tried to broach the topic of prosecutorial misconduct and likewise tried to take away the choose from the case. Smith was not satisfied and denied all motions.
Merritt received the possibility to make a press release and mentioned he cherished Joseph McStay like a brother. He claimed he’d by no means do something to harm him or his household.
“I cherished Joseph,” he mentioned. “He was a giant a part of my life and my household’s life. I might by no means have damage him in any approach. I might have by no means raised my hand for a girl or little one. I didn’t do that factor.”
Joseph McStay’s mom, Susan Blake, known as Merritt “a despicable, evil monster.”
Smith ordered Merritt to be transferred to San Quentin State Jail till his execution date is about, in accordance with The Related Press.
There have been no executions within the state of California since 2006, which leaves Merritt’s destiny up within the air.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., signed an executive order in March that put a moratorium on the executions of 737 inmates, and he decried the usage of the loss of life penalty.
“We cannot advance the death penalty in an effort to soften the blow of what happens to these victims,” Newsom mentioned on the time, after signing the order. “If somebody kills, we don’t kill. We’re higher than that.”
Fox Information’ Frank Miles and The Related Press contributed to this report.