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McStay family was slain because of ‘greed’ jurors told as Merritt trial gets underway – Orange County Register

McStay family was slain because of ‘greed’ jurors told as Merritt trial gets underway – Orange County Register

Jurors within the demise penalty trial of Charles “Chase” Merritt, charged with the 2010 bludgeoning deaths of the McStay family have been told Monday they have been to determine “How did this family of four disappear off the face of the Earth?”

San Bernardino County Supervising Deputy District Lawyer Sean Daugherty began opening statements for the long-awaited trial of Merritt, 61, saying the “why” of the case was “greed, and greed’s child, fraud.”

“And the ‘who’ is sitting here in court today,” Daugherty told the jury of eight ladies and 4 males, who’re listening to the case together with six alternates.

Merritt, 61, of Homeland in Riverside County, has pleaded not responsible to the fees that he killed former enterprise affiliate Joseph McStay, 40, his spouse, Summer time, 43, and their two youngsters, Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, of their Fallbrook house in San Diego County on Feb. four, 2010, then buried their our bodies in two shallow graves within the Mojave Desert, north of Victorville.

The family had been crushed to demise with a three-pound sledgehammer present in one of the graves, and sheriff’s investigators consider Summer time McStay might have been raped earlier than she was killed.

  • Joseph McStay, 40, his spouse Summer time, 43, and their two sons, Gianni, three, and Joseph, three, have been found lifeless in shallow graves simply north of Victorville on Nov. 11, 2013. (Courtesy Photograph)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt sits in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Day by day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt takes his seat in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt sits in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt sits in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Day by day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt takes his seat in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt (left) sits in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt (second from proper) speaks together with his protection staff in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt sits in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Day by day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt (left) speaks together with his lawyer Rajan Maline (proper) in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt sits in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt (left) speaks together with his lawyer Rajan Maline (proper) in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt (left) speaks together with his lawyer Rajan Maline (proper) in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Day by day Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Homicide defendant Charles Ray Merritt sits in San Bernardino County Courtroom previous to opening statements in San Bernardino Monday, January 7, 2019. Merritt is on trial for the homicide of the McStay family from Fallbrook again in 2010. The our bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his spouse Summer time, 43, together with their sons Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr., three, have been present in a shallow grave within the desert north of Victorville in 2013. (Photograph by Will Lester, Inland Valley Every day Bulletin/SCNG)

The our bodies have been present in November 2013 and Merritt was arrested and charged a yr later.

Prosecutors and sheriff’s investigators say Merritt, who crafted customized water fountains for Joseph McStay’s on-line enterprise Earth Impressed Merchandise, was closely in debt and had a playing drawback. He killed the McStay family for monetary achieve, they stated.

Investigators stated he wrote a number of checks totaling greater than $21,000 on Joseph McStay’s QuickBooks account within the weeks after the McStay family was final alive.

“The ‘who,’ while claiming to be Joseph’s best friend, was forging checks from Joseph’s business, putting his hands in the cookie jar,” Daugherty stated.

Daugherty told jurors how prosecutors would line up cellular phone data to point out that within the important days following the McStay family disappearance, Merritt’s cellular phone went “off the grid,” which means his location couldn’t be triangulated from close by cell towers.

He stated Merritt “desperately tried to cover his tracks after the murders … misled investigators, talked in circles, and played the victim,” even, after the murders, took $5,000 from Joseph McStay’s mom “under the guise of completing a project, and never paid her back.”

Throughout a recess break noon Monday, Jan. 7, protection lawyer Rajan Maline stated outdoors courtroom the prosecution was utilizing “innuendo, rumor, and circumstantial evidence. We are going to rely on facts.”

Protection attorneys have stated they’ll use their investigation outcomes to level at one other enterprise affiliate of Joseph McStay, Daniel Kavanaugh.

Merritt’s livelihood “was based on Joseph McStay being alive,” Maline stated outdoors of courtroom.

A key half of the proof is investigators’ claims that Merritt started writing a number of checks to himself from McStay’s QuickBooks enterprise account, and cashing them, starting on Feb. 5, 2010, the day after the McStay family was final seen alive.

Daugherty reviewed for jurors a cascade of checks and telephone calls to QuickBooks. He stated the previous have been forgeries by Merritt to get cash from McStay’s enterprise, and the latter the place telephone calls by Merritt, claiming he was McStay, and trying to control the QuickBooks account.

Daugherty stated Merritt, throughout an interview with investigators, referred to McStay and family members prior to now tense, at a time when nobody knew the family had been slain.

Jurors noticed on courtroom projectors footage of the McStay family in life, and in addition of the distant gravesite, found by a dirt-bike rider who reported to authorities he had noticed what he believed was a human cranium.

The family’s skeletal stays confirmed three had died from blunt drive trauma to the top, from a three-pound sledge hammer additionally buried on the gravesite. There weren’t sufficient stays of Joseph Jr. to determine how he died, Daugherty stated.

The graves have been so shallow that animals had taken some of the stays, he stated.

Daugherty told jurors that on Feb, 6, two days after the McStay family disappeared, between 10:46 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Merritt’s cellphone contacted cell towers taking him out to the Excessive Desert space the place the our bodies have been discovered.

“We can’t answer all the questions,” Daugherty told jurors. “We can tell you the evidence has shown the only person in this case … that had a connection with the High Desert, is the defendant … that man right there.”

The trial has returned to the courtroom following a noon break.

This story is creating. Examine again for updates.