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Second test on ex-Phoenix freeway shooting suspect’s gun is inconclusive

(MCSO mugshot)

PHOENIX — A second independent ballistics test can’t prove the gun belonging to the only man suspected in a series of Phoenix freeway shootings last year was used in the crimes.

Lawyers for Leslie Merritt Jr. said this week that the results of the test were inconclusive. Merritt, who was charged with four of the 11 shootings that targeted drivers from August to September 2015 on Interstate 10 and other freeways in the Valley, has asked that the handgun be returned to him.

Lawyers filed a motion Monday.

After arresting him Sept. 18, 2015, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed to dismiss all charges against the 22-year-old landscaper in the spring.

Authorities are still investigating the case and said they need the gun.

Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said shortly after Merritt’s release that the agency still believed it pursued the correct suspect.

An expert for the prosecution determined bullets in those four incidents couldn’t be linked to Merritt’s firearm.

Merritt, who was jailed for seven months, maintained his innocence after telling arresting officers that they had the wrong man.

Merritt has sued the state and county. In March, he filed a $10 million claim against them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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