Jurors for McStay family murder trial begin deliberating

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Jurors for the McStay family murder trial have begun their deliberations. The 12-member jury will decide if Charles "Chase" Merritt is responsible for killing the family of four in 2010.

Final arguments in the capital murder case began on Tuesday and wrapped with the prosecution hitting back on some of the defense's claims during the five-month long trial.

"We know somehow the defendant got control of that family and got them out of that house. The defense wants you to believe this crazy concocted story," San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Rodriguez said during her rebuttal.

The defense claims Merritt could not have killed the family. Instead they told jurors the McStays were likely kidnapped from their Fallbrook home and murdered elsewhere by as many as three men. The 62-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges he murdered his business partner, Joseph McStay, his wife Summer, and the couple's two young sons, Gianni and Joseph Jr.

The prosecution believes Merritt murdered the family because he was being cut out of McStay's water-feature business and that he was also stealing money from the business - which McStay discovered.

"The simple explanation is that the defendant dug himself into a financial hole," said Rodriguez.

The remains of the family were discovered in two shallow graves in 2013. Merritt was arrested a year later.

"Justice has been delayed, there is no doubt about that, but ladies and gentlemen when you go back into that juror room justice does not have to be denied for the McStay family," Rodriguez told jurors before concluding her rebuttal.

If Merritt is found guilty the jury will then determine if he should receive the death penalty.
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