June 10 (UPI) — A California jury found a man guilty Monday of murdering a family of four and burying their bodies in the Mojave Desert.
Charles “Chase” Merrit, 62, was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his business associate Joseph McStay, his wife, Summer McStay, and their two children in 2010.
The trial lasted five months and jurors deliberated for about a week before reaching the verdict.
Prosecutors said Merritt was motivated to kill the family due to greed and self-interest because he owed McStay $42,845 and forged checks from McStay to himself after the family’s disappearance.
Merritt’s attorney, James McGee, said he believed his client was wrongfully accused and prosecutors built the case based solely on motive.
Sentencing is set to begin on Tuesday and Merrit could face the death penalty.
In 2014, Merritt was charged with killing the family and burying their bodies in the California desert, where they were discovered by a motorcyclist. The family’s car was also found in a parking lot near the Mexican border.
The investigation had previously remained a missing person case for years after the family disappeared from their homes, leaving their two dogs inside the house and two bowls of popcorn in the living room, with no evidence of violence.
McStay was found with a shattered skull, while his wife sustained a blow to the jaw and the two children had skull fractures.