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  1. I’m going to keep this warrant up for another few days. The next warrant is M McStay’s phone records. To me this warrant does signify a turning point in the investigation. And I would agree with you Sleuth, this is where I see some problems in the state’s case. Ill write more about this later.

  2. For me what this search warrant really reveals is the turning point in this investigation where LE stopped following the evidence.

          1. If they had found something don’t you think they would have brought this up at prelim? And the DA instead started talking about all the onstruction that had been done in the home. That sort of thing.

              1. If they couldn’t find evidence of the attack in the home, why stay with that theory. Not only do you have the lack of evidence of the crime four years later, but lots of LE went through that home one a few weeks after the family had been killled. No one saw anything then, either.

                If the facts don’t support the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is what needs to go. Not the facts.

                1. This is a cold case. Evidence was lost. As Steers lays out: You have the bodies wrapped in items known to be missing from the home. You have their manner of dress. on and on. It is logical that the family was therefore killed in the home.

                  1. All you know is that the family was taken from the home. We don’t have any proof as to what conition they were in, when they were taken. Grav has made this point a number of times.

                    Agreed. The family was taken in the evening from their home. Not agreed: they were killed there.

                    And so much of the state’s case relies on this premise. Because they’ve fixed themselves into a timeline based on this and on Chase’s known whereabouts per his phone pings. And that he was the lone assailant, so therefore no one else could have been carrying out any aspect of these murders but Chase.

                    1. Lack of evidence is not evidence. Circumstantial cases tell a story indirectly. There is pee on the kitchen floor, you forgot to take the dog on a walk, you and the dog are the only ones home and you know you didn’t pee there. Logical assumption, your dog peed your floor.

                    2. Yes. But what if you look out the back and see that the dog is outside, and that you must have forgotten that you let the dog out earlier? What if some other factor comes in and challenges that assumption?

                    3. You still have the factors that there were only two parties that might have peed the floor. You know you didn’t and would never pee the floor, and it was just you and dog in the house, therefore even if it’s unusual for the dog to pee on the floor under these conditions it has to be what happened.

                    4. Excellent points all. That’s exactly right Lurk. Beyond a reasonable doubt includes the concept that if you come to the conclusion that no one but the defendant could have comitted this crime, you must convict.

                      That’s why I feel the 7:59pm check is so critical to this case. It’s certain that Merritt wrote that check. If he did, as the state contends, write that check from within the home, then who else could have murdered this family?

                      If he wrote that check from another location…BAM…reasonable doubt!!!!!

                    1. Like Lurk said, this is a cold case. Evidence is bound to have been lost. The bounty of circumstantial evidence is all the jury will have to go by. If that bounty proves convincing they could convict even if they have doubts about some of the particulars.

                      Merritt’s fluctuating stories do make him look as if he has something to hide. So you add that, to clear evidence that he was in the McStay home when he’s already given three alibis (all disproven), and does not appear to have come up with a new alibi—that alone can pretty much seal the deal. Unless the defense does a bang up job of throwing suspicion elsewhere.

                      And you have the forged checks and canceling of QuickBooks as well.

                      But if the check wasn’t written from inside the McStay home…

                      But again, if Merritt wrote the check from another location, why didn’t he just admit to this? Then he’d have an alibi.

                      So chances are good that he wrote that check from in the home.

                      We’ll see.

                    2. There is so much we will not know until trial. It’s that simple. The defense is going to keep thier position close to the vest so we probably won’t know their version of events until next year.

                      I do wish we’d get more info on those motions, though. The mystery of the missing evidence is tantalizing and driving me nuts.

                    3. Maybe. Except I think it was the prosecution that filed the motion around this. I really want to know what that was about.

  3. Here’s one thing I find interesting about all the warrants. They keep repeating that Chase was the last person to speak and see Joey alive, but they believe Joey made it home that day. Well, if Joey made it home then Summer and the kids saw him.

  4. This is getting a little graphic. Let’s take that part of the discussion off line. What do you think about the overall nature of the PCA?

  5. Lurker.

    Wouldn’t Chase have bruises on this hands if he’d hit someone? And burns on his palms from the strangulation? Wouldn’t there be a mark on him from an encounter like that?

    1. That’s a good point Anon3. In some ways Lurker’s theory fits with the evidence, in some ways not. An altercation like that would have left more marks on the killer. And Chase’s hand is injured, but is that injury consistent with a fight?

      1. But I agree with you Lurker, at least teh way the injuries are described they don’t all sound like they would have been made by a sledgehammer. A sledgehammer is going to shatter bone not just fracture it.

        How do you account for the tibia fractures and the ribs?

        1. A fight. A punch to the gut hits the ribs instead, the victim goes down, hits the inside of his leg. Chase is a lot taller than Joey.

  6. Note that in this warrant, for the first time, there is no mention of a conversation between Merritt and Joey at 8:28.

    Steers also states that the hammer could have been one of the weapons used to kill the family. Does he believe there were other weapons used?

    The futon cover and what Joey was wrapped in were similar. Summer was wrapped in a bathrobe, consistent with the one missing from the master bedroom.

    This is the longest of the probable cause affidavits so far. And the most chilling. Whether right or wrong about the crime scene, brought fully into light is the brutality of these murders, and the fear the victims must have felt.

            1. Strangling someone is cleaner than beating them. Maybe that’s how the family was attacked, they were strangled first. Maybe whoever did this thought they were dead. But they come to.

                1. Here’s what I see given the affidavits we’ve been reviewing-these attacks happen in the evening.

                  Summer has been painting. There are no signs of dinner either having been made or being made, we don’t know if there was trash to indicate fast food had been purchased at some point-but maybe the family forgoes a big meal.

                  Or, Joey has been out all day, he gets home, he’s tired. Doesn’t even bother to put his car keys away-or maybe the plan is he will drive down the street and pick up some burgers in a moment.

                  Everyone is beat.

                  Summer gives the kids some popcorn, she pulls eggs out. Maybe it’s scrambled eggs for dinner or maybe she’s getting the eggs room temperature to make cake once the boys go to bed. (Joseph Jr.s birthday was coming up)

                  Knock at the door. It’s Chase (i know we are supposed to presume innocence, but I think he did this-so JMO)

                  The last person Summer wants to see is Chase. She excuses herself and takes the kids upstairs to get them clean and ready for bed, and/or dinner. She promises that they can have the popcorn once they are done, the popcorn goes on the futon which is absent its cover because she washed it. The cover may be nearby.

                  Chase argues with Joey over something, perhaps money, or Joey had cut him out of some work, or Joey found out about the checks. Joey turns away, Chase grabs an extension cord, or he came prepared. He is much bigger than Joey, and he strangles him. Summer wouldn’t be the wiser.

                  Maybe Summer hears something, she comes downstairs, Bam, Chase hits her with his fists (some ofher injuries seem more consistent with a blow from a fist than a hammer. A Hammer would have shattered her jaw, not fractured it)

                  Summer runs upstairs. A small fight ensues. Chase pulls her downstairs and knocks her out. Maybe the kids hide in the closet, that’s why clothes are spread around A few hits to their heads, and they would be out too.

                  Then Chase bundles the family in his truck, grabs a hammer from the home and heads to the desert.

                  There you go. Evidence explained. (and this works with Grav’s theory as well.)

                  1. Really tragic. I do think that whoever did this to the family, that it is likely that things went down something like what you have figured out.

                    1. Given the state of the Trooper, I think Chase attempted to leave things as they were. To make certain there was as little evidence of his presense as possible.

                      If he paints, his DNA gets on the brush. Paint might get on him. You said it once, maybe Summer just decided to paint without the foil. The M.O. of this crime is to leave nothing that would tie any part of it to Chase.

                    2. Here’s the problem I have with this theory, as reasonable as it sounds, how is it that Chase is suddenly embued with all these new skills?

                      His last crime was basic theft from a guy he was working for. How is it that now he’s a master of forensics, and phone pings and garrotes and hammering people to death?

                    3. You strangle someone to shut them up. The hammer is just there, you do what you have to. He digs holes for gold prospecting. That’s something he does anyway. This crime was premeditated but there seems to have been anger there as well.

                      And Chase is on probation. He can’t be found with a gun. Or a knife.

                    4. Yeah, but Chase has zero history of violence. This is a huge escalation. HUGE. And he has issues wtih people later on, after these murders and he doesn’t kill anyone. Or even get into a fist fight. This is a guy who has known tough times before. Why is this situation different?

                    5. Maybe he felt betrayed in someway. Maybe the pressure was too much. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Familiarity breeds contempt. It might just be that the closeness these two men had, soured, and Merritt comes out the loser onthis one.

                      Joey’s got the big house. Merritt gets evicted. Joey’s future is bright. Merritt’s looks bleak. Jealosy. Anger. Maybe there are some sexual things Merritt was battling. People are complex. In cases where the killer and victim are close, there can be a dynamic that doesn’t exist between acquaintances.

                    6. Alright Freud. Some of that makes sense. But I still don’t buy it. I don’t think Joey would have cut Chase out completely. We have only DK’s word on this, and he’s a little shifty with the truth himself. And there is no evidence tying Chase to these crimes. You can say this is because he intended it this way. However, this could also be because there is evidence we dont’ know about.

                      Was there anyone else’s DNA in that Trooper, for example?

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