Charles Merritt Sentenced to Death in Murders of McStay Family

Charles Merritt, 62, was sentenced to death for killing his business partner Joseph McStay’s wife Summer McStay, 43, and the couple’s sons, Gianni McStay, 4, and Joseph McStay Jr., 3. Merritt was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Joseph McStay Sr. Last June the jury recommended both sentences, and Judge Michael A. Smith formally sentenced him on Tuesday.

Joseph McStay Sr.’s father Patrick McStay gave the first victim impact statement on Friday.

“I hope you burn in hell,” he said. “But I will pray for your family and your children as they are to me all just more innocent victims–of which there are many–that you have absolutely no regard or caring for when you murdered my family and caused such pain and suffering that will last forever.”

Jurors recommended a death sentence for Merritt last year. The result would’ve been practically the same regardless of the judge’s final decision. California has had a moratorium on capital punishment in place since March. The state wasn’t even prolific in executing inmates in recent decades, and hasn’t executed anyone since 2006, even though there are hundreds of inmates on death row.

Friday was a surprising day, at least for a sentencing hearing. Merritt tried and failed to fire his attorney. The judge also discussed several motions from the defense. Merritt’s team asked for a new trial.

Investigators said Merritt owed Joseph McStay Sr. tens of thousands of dollars, and killed him and the victim’s family instead of paying it back. He hid the bodies in the Mojave desert, but the remains were discovered in 2013.

[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]

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