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California man on trial for alleged murder of family of 4

January 7, 2019

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Opening statements are expected in the trial of a Southern California man charged with bludgeoning to death a family of four and burying them in the desert.

Lawyers are scheduled to make statements Monday in the trial of 61-year-old Charles “Chase” Merritt for the murders of Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife Summer and their 3- and 4-year-old sons.

The family disappeared from their San Diego County home in 2010. Three years later, their bodies were found in a remote desert location more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) away.

Merritt, who was a business associate of McStay, was arrested the following year. He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities have said Merritt’s cellphone could be traced to the remote gravesites and to a call days later seeking to close McStay’s online bookkeeping account.