The original narrative put forward prior to trial, and very definitely at the June 15, 2015 preliminary hearing, has the McStays killed in their home.  All four, without exclusion, bludgeoned to death and then packaged up in Chase Merritt’s truck and buried two days later on Saturday, February 6. Preliminary Hearing Transcript

The prosecution can hem and haw, and claim they never claimed this, but I have a copy of the preliminary transcript, and this inference is the only one to be drawn from that hearing.  Add to the phone ping evidence presented, DA Imes questions Detective Bachman about weather conditions on the 6th:

(Begins on Page 141)

  • Q) During the course of the investigation, did you also make attempts to determine the weather pattern around February 4th and the surrounding dates of 2010?
  • A) We did.
  • Q) Was there anything of significance that you noted in your research? 
  • A) Yeah. As part of the investigation we conducted inquiries into the calls for service in the area. We found a call for service on February 6th, 2010. It was at roughly 4:30  in the morning, where a patrol deputy, Deputy Sahagun from Victor Valley station, was conducting an extra patrol. Deputies do that all the time, just to check on the area, especially because Oro Grande is kind of desolate, they’ll just also drive through the area to provide extra patrol. He noted in his display information for the call that there was heavy rain going on in the area at that time.
  • Q) Have you ever stepped in a mud puddle?
  • A) I have.
  • Q) What happens to your footprint when you step in loose mud?
  • A) It spreads out from where your initial shoe print would

 

COME ON!! Clearly the prosecution was indicating that Chase Merritt buried the McStays on Saturday February 6, 2010.  This was one of the primary claims on which Chase Merritt was held to answer for these crimes.  The judge’s ruling at prelim:

(Begins on Page 153)

And when you combine that information with the fact that two days after the disappearance, the defendant’s cell phone is pinging off of the cell phone tower in the immediate vicinity of where the victims were buried, all creates a strong inference and strong conclusion that there’s probable cause to believe that the defendant was a participant in the homicide of the victims. And finally, of course, is the fact that the tire tracks, at least one set of the tire tracks at the scene where the victims were buried matches, or at least is consistent with the wheel base of the tires on the defendant’s vehicle that he was driving at the time. So, a conclusion of all of that evidence creates a strong inference, and definitely supports, at a minimum, a probable cause determination that the defendant was a participant in the homicide.”

 

  1. If the McStays aren’t buried on February 6th, what does it matter if Chase pinged in that vicinity on that day?
  2. What does it matter if it rained?

 

So when DA Melissa Rodriguez states that the DAs on this case never said the McStay family was buried on February 6th, she’s not being exactly forthcoming.

True. By trial the prosecution had backed off their original narrative and did not come out and state this explicitly, yet they still brought Kevin Boles to the stand to place Chase Merritt in the vicinity of the graves on February 6. 

What was the purpose of of making this association, if the bodies weren’t buried that day?

And the prosecution did NOT change course because they’d discovered hot new evidence. They changed course because the evidence that they had relied on for over four years had big gaping holes in it. 

The state conceded in closing that they could not say that the McStays were buried on February 6, 2010. The earliest pictures taking that show the graves was an arial shot taken February 12, 2010.

You might ask, why does it matter when the family was buried if we know where they were killed? But that’s part of the problem, there are no indications that the family was killed in their home. No evidence of this at all. The closest one can come to tying the home into this crime is that the family was possibly abducted from the home. And the state, also, midway through trial suggested that the murders might have occurred the morning of February 5th rather than the night of February 4th, or the afternoon of the 4th, during the time period of what had always been referred to as the Chick fil a lunch meeting. So the “when” of this crime does influence any theory about the “where”.

In state’s theory #3 (never mentioned by the state until closing arguments-even though they have been in possession of all the evidence used at trial for over 5 years), it is implied by DDA Britt Imes that Chase and Joseph never met for lunch, but may instead have met at their shared storage unit.  It appears to be Imes’s contention that Joseph may have arranged this in order to fire Chase. And that Joseph demands the key to the padlock for the storage unit back.  I guess the inference to be made is that, enraged at being fired Chase kills Joseph then and there-and drives the Trooper back to Fallbrook, killing the rest of the family there? Imes is unclear on exact details, but this seems to be the theory he puts forward.

Important to remember here is that the Chateau padlock keys do not appear to have been examined to see if they were for the same padlock or different padlocks.

And we’ll forget for a moment that this storage unit was located in Pomona and there are no phone pings or other evidence, such as eye-witnesses, to support either Chase or Joseph being anywhere near Pomona on the 4th.  (Included in the conjecture of this brand-spanking new theory is the assertion by Imes that Joseph drove the Dodge Ram to the meeting, not the Trooper-even though DNA evidence found in the Trooper, would also seem to contradict this.). DNA evidence does very much support the theory that Joseph was the last driver of the Trooper (at least the last driver not wearing gloves.)

 

To be continued…