Legally Speaking: What the accused Phoenix freeway shooter’s dropped charges mean
Apr 23, 2016, 4:58 PM | Updated: Apr 25, 2016, 10:04 am
Late Friday afternoon the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss the case against Leslie Allen Merritt, Jr., the accused I-10 freeway shooter. This motion came on the heels of the revelation by the state’s expert, Lucien Haag, that there is no link, or at least not one strong enough, between the bullets recovered from the vehicles and Merritt’s gun.
Earlier in the case, a state’s expert issued an opinion stating the bullets recovered from the vehicles were in fact fired from a gun that Merritt had pawned and recovered numerous times. With this opinion, the state continued down the path of prosecuting Merritt even though it didn’t have any eyewitnesses, pictures or videos placing Merritt at the scene of the shootings.
Since Sept., the defense team has been trying to poke holes in the state’s case with attempts to depose Gov. Doug Ducey and DPS director Frank Milstead. Its most recent victory was when
Its most recent victory was when Judge Warren Granville modified Merritt’s release conditions and released him to pre-trial services. He had several conditions of release including wearing an ankle monitor but he did not have to post a bond.
This was very telling since one of the factors a judge can take into consideration when determining release conditions is the “weight of the evidence against the accused.”
The state’s motion requests Judge Granville dismiss the case “without prejudice.” If granted, the state would have the ability in the future to bring charges against Merritt if it obtains additional evidence. Although the defense will request the case be dismissed with prejudice (meaning the state can never bring the charges again), it will obviously not object to the Motion.
Although the defense will request the case be dismissed with prejudice (meaning the state can never bring the charges again), it will obviously not object to the motion.
I anticipate judge Granville will grant the motion in short order. He is well-versed in criminal law and in common sense. He knows, being a former prosecutor with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, that when a motion from the state moves to dismiss a case “in the best interests of justice,” it means the state cannot come close to meeting its burden and convincing a jury of 12, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Merritt is guilty.
Legally speaking, that is great news for Merritt and his family; however, that means the real shooter(s) is/are still out there, and DPS has its work cut out for it since we are eight months since the shootings occurred.