Prosecutors seek dismissal of charges against man in Arizona shootings

By REUTERS
April 23, 2016 08:20
1 minute read.

Prosecutors in Phoenix on Friday filed court papers to withdraw criminal charges against a man who was arrested last year and accused in a string of Arizona freeway shootings, a spokesman for prosecutors said.

The move by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office came after a judge on Tuesday reduced the bail of 21-year-old Leslie Allen Merritt Jr to nothing from $150,000, clearing the way for his release later that day.

"We have a professional and ethical duty to act in the interest of justice and not merely seek a conviction and this is a textbook example of doing that," said Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

A ballistics expert has called into question the methodology used early on in the investigation that tied Merritt, a landscaper, to the shootings, Cobb said.

A judge is expected to rule to formally dismiss the case against Merritt as early as Monday.

Merritt was arrested last Sept. 18 and charged with 15 criminal counts, including drive-by-shooting and aggravated assault, for four of 11 shooting incidents along a stretch of Interstate 10 that passes through Phoenix.

The shootings, which occurred in late August and early September, struck fear among motorists in the area.

No other suspect has been arrested in connection with the attacks.


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