California man Charles Merritt, 62, is scheduled to be sentenced in San Bernardino County. He was found guilty last year of first-degree murder in the deaths of his business partner Joseph McStay, 40, McStay’s wife Summer McStay, 43, and the couple’s sons, Gianni McStay, 4, and Joseph McStay Jr., 3.
Jurors recommended life in prison in the father’s passing, but recommend the death penalty for what Merritt was convicted of doing to the mother and her children.
San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Britt Imes underlined the brutality of the murders. The defendant beat the victims and left them dead in two shallow graves in the Mojave desert because he owed the family patriarch tens of thousands of dollars, he said. The family was considered missing February 4, 2010, and weren’t discovered until 2013.
The defense tried to show that this was a close case and attempted to appeal to any lingering doubt the jurors may have had. They had argued at trial that another business partner could’ve been responsible for the murders. That argument didn’t convince the jury. Jurors didn’t just convict Merritt, but they decided that he should die. It is a moot point, at least as things stand. California has had a moratorium on capital punishment in place since March. The state wasn’t prolific in executing inmates in recent decades, and hasn’t executed anyone since 2006, even though there are hundreds of inmates on death row.
Nonetheless, this sentencing hearing would put an end to a grisly case that has been ongoing for almost a full decade.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]