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Man convicted of killing McStay family sentenced to death penalty

Posted at 8:22 AM, Jan 21, 2020

(KGTV) -- Charles “Chase” Merritt, the man convicted of killing a Fallbrook family of four and dumping their bodies in the desert, was sentenced to the death penalty Tuesday.

Merritt was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Joseph McStay and the death penalty for the murders of Summer McStay and the couple's sons, Gianni and Joseph Jr. A San Bernardino County jury recommended the sentences when Merritt was convicted last year.

On Jan. 17, Merritt made a lengthy and unsuccessful bid to fire his attorney and have his conviction thrown out. His attorney also attempted to introduce new evidence and requested a new trial, but those efforts also failed. Actions by Merritt and his attorney prompted the judge to reschedule the sentencing.

RELATED: Sentencing delayed for man convicted of killing McStay family

Tuesday, several family members and Merritt made statements to the court prior to the sentencing.

"Chase you are a low-life coward and a baby killer and labeled that. Just a monster," Joseph McStay's mother, Susan Blake, said in court Tuesday. "You deserve the sentence the jury came to. You deserve to go to prison and I hope that you look over your shoulder and be scared just like my grandsons."

"Our families have already been given a life sentence of never again, we will never again be with Joey or Gianni or Joseph again," said Summer McStay's sister. "Losing Joey, Summer, Gianni and Joseph is indescribable. Justice is finally being served for Joey, Gianni Summer and Joseph."

In June 2019, Merritt was convicted of killing the family. The family had last been 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.

Then in 2013, a motorcyclist found a piece of a skull off Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County, leading to the discovery of the family's bodies in shallow graves. The graves were less than 20 miles away from Merritt's home.

Merritt was arrested a year later. Prosecutors say Merritt was forging checks linked to the business he shared with Joseph McStay.