San Diego

Man Accused of Killing McStay Family Ordered to Stand Trial

The man accused of killing a family of four and burying them in the high desert will be tried for the crimes.

A San Bernardino County judge ruled Monday that there is enough evidence against Charles "Chase" Merritt to take him to trial for allegedly murdering San Diego-area couple Joseph and Summer McStay and their two young children.

Prosecutors laid out the evidence during a preliminary hearing which included DNA as well as cellphone records.

They say they have proof that Merritt, 58, was in the area where the bodies were buried in shallow graves at around the same time the McStay family was murdered.

Merritt could face the death penalty if convicted.

The two graves in Victorville contained the remains of the family. At least three of them were beaten to death, possibly with a 3-pound sledgehammer that was found buried in one of the graves.

Joseph McStay also had an extension cord wrapped around his neck.

His mother and brother spoke with NBC4 after the hearing.

"I've been looking forward to this day,” said Mike McStay, Joseph’s brother. “I wanted to know they had the right person. I wanted to see the evidence for myself. I needed to know they had the right person."

Prosecutors said Merritt and McStay were business associates, and that Merritt was stealing money from McStay.

"It's a sad day very mixed emotions. A lot to see,” said Susan Blake, McStay’s mother. “Taking it in was just overwhelming."

Defense attorneys maintain the evidence is circumstantial and Merritt is innocent.
 

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