ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona officially drops charges against former I-10 shooting suspect

Apr 25, 2016, 5:55 PM | Updated: 6:20 pm

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo, accused freeway shooter Leslie Allen Merritt, Jr., appears ...

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo, accused freeway shooter Leslie Allen Merritt, Jr., appears in Maricopa County Superior Court for his arraignment in Phoenix. Prosecutors have decided to dismiss charges against Merritt, Jr., suspected in the freeway shootings that rattled Phoenix last year. Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesman Jerry Cobb said Friday, April 22, 2016 that the office filed a motion to dismiss all charges without prejudice against Leslie Merritt Jr. Cobb says authorities and prosecutors identified additional forensic investigation that needs to be completed in order for the case to proceed. (Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool, File)

(Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool, File)

LISTEN: Ulises Ferragut

PHOENIX — Arizona has officially dismissed all charges against a man accused of opening fire on multiple occasions along Interstate 10.

The state announced Friday it would drop the charges against Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., who was accused in four shootings along I-10.

The dismissal was formalized Monday.

Jerry Cobb, spokesman for Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, said that the office filed a motion to dismiss all charges without prejudice against Merritt.

“In conjunction with (the Department of Public Safety), we have identified additional forensic investigation that needs to be completed in order for the case to proceed,” Cobb said.

This action will allow them “the necessary time” to file charges again, Cobb added. He declined to comment further.

The “without prejudice” clause means prosecutors could refile charges in the future if more evidence is found, according to KTAR News’ legal analyst Monica Lindstrom.

Should the state opt to file a dismissal with prejudice, it has until May 6 to do so.

In a statement, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokeman Daniel Scarpinato said, “We expect the case to be treated fairly.”

Ulises Ferragut, One of Merritt’s attorneys, said in an interview with KTAR News’ Mac & Gaydos that the case was botched and that DPS altered the log to frame Merritt as the shooter.

Merritt was released on Tuesday to await trail after a judge reduced his bail from $1 million to zero. He was required to wear electronic monitoring device before a May 18 status conference.

A judge has barred several documents in the case from public release, including a filing that led to Merritt leaving jail. Those documents remain under seal.

The 21-year-old landscaper was arrested in September after multiple vehicles were hit with random gunfire along I-10. He was charged with opening fire on vehicles along I-10 on Aug. 29 and Aug. 31.

DPS said the weapon used in the shootings was “forensically linked” to Merritt, but he claimed he was “the wrong guy” and hadn’t had access to his guns for two months.

Merritt filed a legal claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — a month ago, demanding $10 million from the state and county.

He alleged authorities rushed to judgment and failed to provide evidence that he was present at any of the shootings.

Defense attorneys have said ballistic tests cast doubt on authorities’ claims that he was behind four of the freeway shootings.

Merritt’s lawyers said phone records and accounts from family members showed that Merritt wasn’t near the scene of the shootings.

Prosecutors have cast doubt on the alibi claim by saying Merritt’s fiancee told investigators that she wasn’t sure about his whereabouts.

Authorities said Merritt showed an extreme interest in the shootings and made a Facebook post about the arrest of three teenagers who hurled rocks at cars with slingshots in a copycat case but weren’t tied to the shootings.

The investigation into the other shootings remains open.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Firefighting crews are battling the Riverside Fire north of Fountain Hills. (Tonto National Forest ...

KTAR.com

Bartlett Lake recreational areas north of Fountain Hills evacuated for Riverside Fire

The recreational areas near Bartlett Lake have been evacuated as firefighters battle the Riverside Fire north of Fountain Hills.

21 minutes ago

A 2-year-old boy died after he was found in a backyard jacuzzi Saturday. (Pixabay photo)...

KTAR.com

2-year-old boy found in west Phoenix jacuzzi dies

Detectives are investigating the death of a two-year-old boy who was found in a backyard jacuzzi on Saturday in west Phoenix.

2 hours ago

State's new budget a sore spot for attorney general - Here's why...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona AG ‘extremely disappointed’ with state budget cuts to opioid settlement funds

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes released a statement saying she is "extremely disappointed" with the state's new budget on Saturday.

2 hours ago

Bipartisan state budget of $16 billion passes in Arizona Legislature...

Associated Press

Arizona lawmakers pass bipartisan $16.1 billion budget, fix $1.4 billion deficit

Arizona lawmakers passed a $16.1 billion bipartisan state budget, which Gov. Hobbs negotiated with GOP leaders, on Saturday evening.

6 hours ago

Southbound Loop 101 on-ramp in Scottsdale to close (ADOT Photo)...

Bailey Leasure

Southbound Loop 101 on-ramp in Scottsdale to close for 2 months

 The southbound Loop 101 on-ramp at Princess Drive and Pima Road in Scottsdale is scheduled to be closed for two months

8 hours ago

Improvements coming to Brooks Crossing Park (City of Chandler Photo)....

Bailey Leasure

New improvements coming to Chandler’s Brooks Crossing Park

Chandler City Council approves a construction agreement that will allow for improvements to Brooks Crossing Park.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Arizona officially drops charges against former I-10 shooting suspect