By now, everybody has heard of the
I-10 Freeway Shooter case. During August and September of 2015, someone was randomly committing
drive-by shootings on Phoenix Freeways. But from the minute Leslie Merritt,
Jr. was arrested, I sensed something was very wrong.
Before I was even hired as his criminal defense lawyer, I listened to my
client protest his innocence at his initial appearance. A ballsy move,
indeed, which only a true sociopath - or an innocent man - could pull
off without batting an eye.
But as I rolled up my sleeves and dug into the case, I quickly learned
that my gut intuition was right on the money. There were no witnesses,
no physical evidence, no nothing putting him at the scenes of the crimes.
The only evidence linking him to the 15 counts of drive by shooting,
aggravated assault, and a host of other dangerous
felony offenses was a supposed match between his gun and the bullets recovered from the
four cars that were shot. But even that wasn’t right.
For the last of the shootings, Leslie’s gun was already in pawn.
How, at least in this dimension, could the same gun have been used in
all of the shootings if we can definitively show that the gun was far
out of his hands for one of them? Police ignored this inconvenient fact
and instead invented a new timeline for this last shooting and moved it
up to a date that the gun wasn’t in pawn, despite the lack of evidence
to support this hocus pocus and the adamancy of the driver of the car
that was shot (while the gun was in pawn) as to the date on which it occurred.
And then there was the cell phone GPS evidence. If you don’t already
know, whenever you make a call on a mobile phone, your approximate location
can be determined from the towers with which your phone is communicating
to make that call. That GPS data proved that Leslie, someone who is more
like your goofy little brother than anything remotely close to a so-called
"domestic terrorist", was miles away from the scene of the shootings
when they occurred. Yet again, an inconvenient fact for the police and
one that was ignored to make a round peg fit into a square hole.
After 20 years of practicing law in state and federal court, the vast majority
of which has been as a
criminal defense attorney based in Phoenix, did what I was seeing surprise me? Actually, it blew
me away. But what was more shocking is how law enforcement doggedly pursued
a young man who they knew was truly innocent (to be clear, not someone
who was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, not someone who was getting
off on a technicality like illegal search and seizure, but someone who was
Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who saw what could only be described
as a cheesy magic trick performed by police, done solely in effort to
quell the public fears and draw
ahh’s at their supposedly crack investigative prowess. The public quickly realized
that my client, the so-called "domestic terrorist", was nothing
more than the innocent kid that my gut told me he was the minute I stepped
into his case. And now the public is quickly realizing that the investigation
which put him in jail was little more than slight of hand.
Was it gratifying to see Leslie walk out of jail on April 19, 2016? Hell
yes it was. Was it gratifying to see the charges dismissed three days
later on April 22, 2016? Hell yes it was. Will it be even more gratifying
to see those responsible for the charade that caused an innocent man to
sit in solitary confinement for seven months held accountable for what
they did? Well, let’s just say that if anyone wants to sit back
with me and watch, I’ve got plenty of popcorn to go around.
As a skilled and seasoned Phoenix criminal defense lawyer, I have successfully
represented numerous complex and high profile cases, including
white collar crimes, and more.
If you need top-quality legal counsel, contact Jason D. Lamm and
schedule a consultation today.