Man accused of killing McStay family expects to be acquitted in murder trial

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (KABC) -- A man accused of killing a family of four and burying their bodies in the desert tells Eyewitness News that he did not commit the crime.

In an exclusive interview at the West Valley Detention Center, Charles "Chase" Merritt claims he is innocent for the 2010 murders of the McStay family members.

He was arrested in 2014 on suspicion of beating the four family members to death in their home in Fallbrook.

The family disappeared from their home in San Diego in 2010, and their skeletal remains were found in two shallow graves in a desert in Victorville in November 2013.

In January, a San Bernardino judge granted Merritt permission to represent himself in court during his murder trial.

During the exclusive interview, Merritt said that his former attorney was "in over his head."

Merritt was granted permission to represent himself because he has congestive heart failure, and his former attorney claimed Merritt may only have six to eight months left to live.

In regards to his health, Merritt said he feels fine and is getting the attention and care he needs at the jail.

As for his upcoming trial, Merritt said the evidence he has reviewed shows there is nothing to connect him to either the gravesite or the scene of the killings at the family home.

He calls the investigation against him a thorough one, but it has a ridiculous outcome.

He said 40-year-old Joseph McStay was not a business associate of his, but rather a best friend to him. The two spoke to one another 15 to 30 times each day, Merritt said.

He adds that the business the two were a part of was doing well. But after the four McStay members went missing, the rest of the family ran the business into the ground. This caused a falling out.

Merritt said because of that he did not call any of the other McStay family members to offer condolences after the bodies were found, but he did eventually speak with Joseph McStay's brother, who told him it would not be appropriate to attend a remembrance service.

He said people should expect big surprises at his preliminary hearing, when evidence that had been sealed from the public will be reviewed.

He admits there are "skeletons in his closet," but he said by the time his trial is over he expects to be fully acquitted.

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