Closing arguments in murder trial of Charles Merritt, accused of killing McStay family

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Closing arguments in the murder case against Charles Merritt wrap up the five-month-long trial.

Merritt is accused of killing his business partner, Joseph McStay, his wife Summer and the couple's two young boys in February 2010.

"It was blow after blow after blow to a child's skull, a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old. That is an intentional killing," San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Britt Imes said during his statements to the jury.

Imes told jurors the motive for the crime was motivated by Merritt's greed and financial troubles. He led jurors through evidence that showed Merritt was stealing money from McStay's QuickBooks account by writing checks and then deleting them from the record.

"Why would he be getting the balance on the same day he gets a deposit? That doesn't make sense. It doesn't reconcile with his spreadsheet or the rest of his QuickBooks activity," said Imes.

The defense countered by telling the jury during its closing argument the prosecution only focused on Merritt's character and not the facts of the murder. The defense said the circumstantial case lacked any evidence tying their client to the violent murders. But the prosecution reminded jurors they didn't have to prove how, where or when the McStay family was killed, only that Merritt committed the crimes.

Imes focused jurors attention on Merritt's cellphone and internet activity in the days leading up to and following the family's disappearance from their Fallbrook home.

"All of them just happened to happen. Just a coincidence that they happened the day Joseph and his family drop off the face of the Earth. What is the likelihood of that?" said Imes "And all of that happening in that one week when the defendant is cashing checks left and right for his own benefit."

The defense's closing arguments got underway late in the afternoon and will continue on Wednesday morning.
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