Suspect’s attorney identifies possible murder weapon, evidence in McStay family murder

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The accused killer in the McStay family murder is closer to getting his day in court.

On Friday attorneys for Charles Merritt will sit down with prosecutors to decide if they’re ready for the preliminary hearing on Monday.

Merritt’s attorney spoke with FOX 5 Thursday, revealing some of what the prosecution may present.

Joseph and Summer McStay and their two sons disappeared in February of 2010. Their remains were found three years later buried in shallow desert graves.

Jimmy Mettias believes prosecutors will argue the family of four from Fallbrook was bludgeoned to death.

“The allegation is that the alleged murder weapon is this 3-pound Stanley sledgehammer that was found in one of the graves,” said Mettias.

He said there is nothing to connect his client with the crime.

“There’s no DNA evidence to connect him to the weapon,” said Mettias.

The attorney also contends prosecutors will say paint found on the hammer is evidence Merritt tried to paint the McStay home to cover up the murder.

“There was paint on it, but the paint analysis came back and it doesn’t match any paint at the house,” said Mettias.

Mettias also believes prosecutors will rely on pings from cell phone towers to place Merritt’s whereabouts.

“They have some cell tower evidence that doesn’t place Mr. Merritt in places in terms of San Ysidro, or the home in Fallbrook,” said Mettias.

Prosecutors have said the McStays were killed in their own home, but Mettias said there is no proof.

“Nothing, San Diego Police Department was first on scene, they made it very clear, they didn’t find anything in the house that would suggest that it was a crime scene,” said Mettias.

Mettias said prosecutors would also argue the motive for the murder was money.

“There’s the issue of the QuickBooks transactions, I think they’ll try to put a motive in place using those transactions,” said Mettias.

He said from those transactions prosecutors will make the connection Merritt was stealing money from McStay, who was a one-time business associate in a water fountain business.

“The allegation is he was writing checks to himself and then he was deleting them,” said Mettias.

Mettias has been mounting the Merritt defense with attorneys, Jim Terrell Sharon Brunner and David Askander. He said his team will be ready come Monday.

“We feel like with the evidence we have and with the defenses we have, we don’t see how they have the right guy here,” said Mettias.

Mettias said his team would not be presenting that proof Monday at the preliminary hearing.

“It’s not because we can’t, it’s just not the appropriate time for it,” said Mettias. “In a crime of this magnitude and the kind of case it is with two little children being murdered, we fully expect this is going to go to trial.”

For now, he continues to maintain his client is innocent, but the proof will have to come later, he said.

“We believe there are defenses and these will be apparent at the trial.”

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