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Former freeway shootings suspect’s lawsuit will go to trial in Phoenix

(MCSO mugshot)

PHOENIX — The man who was the main suspect in shootings on Phoenix freeways can pursue his lawsuit against the state of Arizona and Maricopa County, a judge said.

The motion to dismiss Leslie Merritt Jr.’s civil suit was denied this week in Maricopa County Superior Court by Judge David Gass.

Merritt had been accused of committing 4 of 11 shootings on Valley freeways that created intense unease during the late summer of 2015.

He was in jail for seven months.

Charges, including aggravated assault and drive-by shootings mostly on Interstate 10 were dropped in April 2016.

His lawsuit accused state crime lab workers of assuring detectives that Merritt’s handgun had been used in those four shootings.

Authorities repeatedly said after Merritt’s arrest that forensic evidence tied him to the gun fired in some of the attacks.

An independent ballistics expert working for prosecutors later said its tests — a second set — were inconclusive.

The Department of Public Safety’s crime lab had turned in results that eventually led to Merritt’s arrest on Sept. 18, 2015.

The lawsuit also claimed that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and his office misled grand jurors about the reliability of the ballistics evidence.

Merritt proclaimed his innocence as soon as he was captured in Glendale.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.