On February 4 (or 5th), 2010, the McStay family of four, Joseph Sr., Summer, Gianni and Joseph Jr vanish from their newly purchased home in Fallbrook, California.
November 11, 2013, the bodies of all four McStay family members are discovered buried in two shallow graves in the desert in Victorville, California.
November 7, 2014, a family friend and business associate Charles Ray Merritt is charged with their murders.
June 24, 2019, Charles Merritt was found guilty and sentenced to death, even though evidence presented at trial debunked all assertions made by the prosecution.
By the finish of trial it was even unclear which of the varying narratives the state put forward convinced the jury. The verdict and sentencing recommendations by the jury were also inconsistent.
This case has something that few others do, lots of documentation made available to the public. And there was live coverage of every day of trial.
Thirty-six search warrants issued on this case, by two different law enforcement agencies, are now available to the public.
The preliminary hearing for People v Merritt took place June 15, 2015, at the San Bernardino Superior Court House. Much of this hearing is known to the public as well.
There is an opportunity for the public to determine for themselves what they believe happened. And though definitive answers as to who murdered the McStay family of four may not be found at trial, as some evidence was not admitted, what most will see on close examination is that there was never enough evidence to bring a case against Charles Merritt, let alone convict him. I believe a close examination of the evidence presented at trial will convince any objective viewer of at least three things:
- Charles Merritt had alibi for both the night of the February 4th and the morning of February 5th (prosecutors at trial waffled as to exactly when they believed McStays were actually abducted and killed).
- Charles Merritt had no motive.
- Charles Merritt is very possibly innocent.
- Regardless or Merritt’s innocence or guilt, it does not seem possible that this crime could have been successfully committed by only one person, or in the manner that prosecutors asserted. Whether one believes Merritt to be innocent or guilty, it is in the interest of justice to get to the answers of who really killed this family, and how.
THE PUBLISHED San Bernardino County Search Warrants previously available on-line no longer appear to be there. You can still find them here: SBC Search Warrants:
Warrants released by the early investigators on this case:
Court updates and future hearings:
This blog is designed to facilitate discussion on the evidence presented at trial.
All opinions given on this blog are my own.
(I have a feeling this story is far from over.)
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“I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.”