Trial set to begin in McStay family murder case

Posted at 2:41 PM, Jan 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-07 10:52:29-05

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KGTV) - Opening statements are set to begin Monday morning in the trial of a man accused of killing a San Diego County family.

Charles Ray Merritt is accused of killing business associate Joseph McStay, McStay's wife Summer, and their two sons, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr.

The McStays disappeared from their Fallbrook home in early February 2010. Days after they were last seen, the family’s SUV was found abandoned at a strip mall parking lot in San Ysidro.

In 2013, the bodies of the family members were found in the Mojave Desert, near Victorville. Prosecutors said the family died from blunt-force trauma to their heads. Authorities found a sledgehammer, believed to be the murder weapon, in one of the graves.

Merritt was arrested in connection with the killings in November 2014 after sufficient evidence linking him to the case, including DNA, was discovered.

Authorities alleged Merritt killed the family members inside their home and then buried them in the desert. Merritt also tried to paint over the crime scene, according to authorities.

During Monday’s opening statements, jurors in the San Bernardino County courtroom are expected to hear a tape of Merritt being questioned by investigators.

Merritt, 61, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and is being held without bail.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.