Jurors in San Bernardino, California must now decide the fate of convicted murderer Charles McStay, 61. Should he get the death penalty for killing 40-year-old business partner Joseph McStay, McStay’s 43-year-old wife Summer, and the couple’s sons, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr.? Court is expected to begin 9:30 a.m. PT / 12:30 p.m. ET.
The victims disappeared on February 4, 2010. There whereabouts went unknown for three years until a motorcyclist discovered them while traveling through the Mojave. The McStays were buried in two shallow graves. Prosecutors said Merritt killed the family after owing Joseph McStay tens of thousands of dollars. The defense tried and fail to pin the homicides on another business partner.
The defense, who has argued Charles Merritt’s innocence from day one, now has to completely shift gears and start the next phase of trying to save his life This is no easy task for any defense attorney. #McStay @LawCrimeNetwork https://t.co/ItlkAwu0XE
— Julie Rendelman Esq. (@julie_rendelman) June 10, 2019
Defense lawyer and Law&Crime Network analyst Gene Rossi spoke on the Network after Merritt was found guilty on Monday. He said the defense put up the best case they could, and he highlighted possible ways that they could save their client from the death penalty. Rossi suggested that Merritt’s advanced age could benefit the defense. He also said that this was a close case, meaning this could also weigh against a possible death sentence.
The sentencing hearing is projected to last about five days: the prosecution said their presentation would take three, while the defense said theirs would last two.
Practically speaking, it could be a moot point if Merritt were sentenced to death. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a moratorium on capital punishment in March. In recent decades, the state had never been prolific in putting inmates to death, and hadn’t even executed anyone since 2006 even though there are hundreds of people on death row.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]