McStay Family Slayings: Charles Merritt Pleads Not Guilty to 4 Counts of Murder

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The suspect in the slayings of a family of four from Fallbrook, including two children, was escorted quickly into a Victorville courtroom, where he plead not guilty Wednesday before a battery of TV and still cameras.


Joseph McStay, his wife Summer and sons Gianni and Joseph were last heard from on Feb. 4, 2010.

Dressed in a light blue dress shirt and dark tie, Charles “Chase” Merritt, 57, sat quietly, handcuffed and shackled around his waist. The proceedings took less than 15 minutes and a court hearing was scheduled for Nov. 20. Merritt, 57, was arrested last Friday on suspicion of killing former business associate Joseph McStay, along with his wife and two young sons.

His attorney, Robert Ponce, told reporters outside the courtroom that “this case arose from tragedy” and expressed his “sincere condolences and sympathy for the McStay family.”

Ponce waved a compact disc he said contained 900 pages of discovery in the case that he said he received from the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office, but added that he would not comment on the charges facing Merritt until he had more information.

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