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Sentencing delayed for man convicted of killing McStay family

Posted at 8:50 AM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 20:27:33-05

(KGTV) - Sentencing will continue next week for the man convicted of killing his former business partner along with the man’s wife and two young sons.

A San Bernardino County jury recommended the death penalty in June 2019 for Charles “Chase” Merritt. The recommendation came after Merritt was found guilty in the deaths of Joseph McStay, his wife Summer, and their two sons, Gianni and Joey Jr.

A sentence was expected to be delivered Friday. The hearing will now resume on Tuesday.

The family was last seen at a Fallbrook home in February 2010. Investigators had few leads in the case, at one point believing the McStays had crossed the border into Mexico voluntarily. Merritt alerted authorities to the disappearance and filed a missing persons report.

RELATED: Death penalty recommended in Fallbrook family's murders / McStay family murder trial: Business partner found guilty to killings

In November 2013, a motorcyclist found a piece of skull off Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County. That led to the discovery of the family’s remains in a shallow grave less than 20 miles from Merritt’s home.

One year later, Merritt was arrested. During his trial, which started in January 2019, prosecutors said Merritt had been forging checks linked to the business he shared with Joseph McStay.

During Friday's sentencing, Merritt tried to fire his attorney, Rajan Maline, after returning from the court's lunch break. The defense had spent the morning giving several motions about new cell phone evidence. The prosecution had yet to have the chance to argue against the motions before Merritt moved to fire Maline mid-trial.

The judge denied Merritt's request and allowed the defense to continue arguments for a new trial because of the new evidence and alleged misconduct by the prosecution.

A family member of the McStays requested to speak Friday despite the delay in Merritt's sentencing.