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Trial date set for onetime Phoenix freeway shooting suspect lawsuit

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PHOENIX – A landscaper who was a suspect in a series of freeway shootings that petrified Phoenix residents will be going to court in the spring in a false-arrest lawsuit.

Leslie Merritt Jr.’s trial was scheduled to begin April 6 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

He was the focal point of an investigation into the 2015 shootings on Interstate 10 that lasted from Aug. 27 to Sept. 10.

Merritt was jailed for seven months before charges including drive-by shooting and aggravated assault were dismissed in 2016.

He had been accused in four of the 11 shootings, based on what authorities said was a ballistics link.

The West Valley landscaper has maintained his innocence and sued the Arizona Department of Public Safety, whose SWAT team took him into custody.

Most of his legal claims against the agency were recently dismissed, but he can still seek damages on his claims of false arrest and false imprisonment.

Those claims covered the six days between his arrest and indictment.

Last month, a judge said a jury could conclude police lacked probable cause to detain Merritt during that time.

Authorities have said the investigation has continued, but there have been no other arrests.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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