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Investigator: Greene County double-murder defendant not initially considered a suspect

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 1:54 PM



Richard Wilson
(Richard Wilson)

Key evidence is being challenged by the defense in the murder case against Brett Merrick, who is charged along with his brother in the January murders of two Greene County residents.

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Merrick, 24, appeared in Judge Stephen Wolaver's courtroom today as the prosecution called on the investigators to testify regarding their initial interview with the defendant. 

That interview happened Jan. 24, the same day investigators arrested Brett's brother Dustin Merrick on suspicion of murder and searched his home. 

RELATED >>> Key evidence challenged in Greene County capital murder case

Brett Merrick was arrested later that day, after he was interrogated on video at the Xenia police station for what prosecutors estimated to be six and a half hours. 

Both brothers are charged with aggravated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted in the fatal shootings of William "Skip" Brown and Sherri Mendenhall, whose bodies were discovered Jan. 15 at the duplex where they lived in separate apartments on East Enon Road near Yellow Springs. 

RELATED >>> Greene County double-homicide case going to grand jury

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Seth Hagaman was the first to be called to testify. Hagaman testified that he was called in to assist the Greene County Sheriff's Office in the investigation. He led the first interview with Brett Merrick. 

Hagaman asserted that Brett Merrick voluntarily went to the police station for the interview and he was considered a "witness" at the time and not a suspect, which is why he was not read his Miranda rights. 

Hagaman told the courtroom that Brett Merrick had every opportunity to end the interrogation and leave, but he chose to speak without the presence of a lawyer.

SEE WHO’S IN JAIL: Greene County Jail inmates 

Hagaman said he interviewed the defendant for approximately one hour and 45 minutes and during that time he came to the conclusion that Brett Merrick was lying about his brother's whereabouts on the day in question. 

Defense Attorney Dennis Lieberman hammered Hagaman with questions as to at what point did Brett Merrick become a suspect. 

"I viewed him as a witness in the sense that I was told Dustin Merrick could offer Brett as his alibi for where he was on the night of the murder," Hagaman responded. "That's why I wanted an opportunity to talk to him fresh without the two of them having a chance to interact." 

Lieberman asserted that the investigators could have interviewed Brett Merrick before or after Dustin's arrest and not simultaneous to his arrest. 

The prosecution planned to call two more witnesses to the stand. Wolaver is expected to rule on the motion to suppress at a later date. 

Judge Michael Buckwalter could decide as early as next week on a motion to suppress evidence in Dustin Merrick's case, which was filed based on the defense's claim that investigators obtained the alleged firearm that was used in the slayings through a warrantless seizure. 

Both brothers are being held in the Greene County Jail, each in lieu of $5 million bond. While the judges will need time to decide on various motions filed by the defense teams, Brett Merrick's trial is scheduled to be in March 2018 and Dustin's trial is scheduled to begin in November.

All lanes of I-75 North open after multiple crashes near Tipp City

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 12:35 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 7:06 AM

SCENE: Multiple crashes on NB I-75 in Tipp City

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic .

Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and News 95.7 FM.

Major Highway Incidents

  • On NB I-75 in Tipp City north of SR 571, four separate crashes reported around 5:30 a.m. All lanes reopened around 7 a.m. 

Surface Street Incidents

  • No incidents to report. 

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>> RELATED: Check for delays or cancellations before heading to the airport

>> RELATED: Track the latest conditions in your neighborhood on our live WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Ongoing Construction & Other Closures 

Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.

Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map. 

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

  • Keowee Street north of Stanley Avenue, bridge closed until 2019. The official detour is: Keowee Street to Stanley Avenue to I-75 to Wagner Ford Road and back to Dixie. More information is available here.
  • Stewart Street Ramp to US 35 East, RAMP CLOSURE March 28 - Sept 30, 2018. The official detour is: Stewart Street to Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to I-75 north to US 35 west to James H. McGee Blvd. to US 35 east.
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west and east, Lane width restriction until Apr. 1, 2018. One lane will remain open on the ramp with a width of 11 feet.
  • I-70 between Upper Lewisburg Salem Road and Brooksville-Phillipsburg Road, Lane closure Jan. 22 - 29. One lane will remain open in each direction at all times. Shoulder closures Jan. 22 - Sept. 30. Both the inside and outside shoulders of I-70 will be closed during construction. 

Tsunami warning issued after 7.9 magnitude earthquake off coast of Alaska

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 5:02 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 6:55 AM

A tsunami warning is in effect after a preliminary 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck  173 miles southeast of Kodiak, Alaska.

>> THE LATEST: Officials tell residents to seek higher ground amid tsunami warning

UPDATE @ 6:55 a.m. 

The Kodiak Police Department reports water has started to recede from their harbor, and are urging residents to move to higher ground and wait for updates, according to a Facebook post. 

 Police also posted a video about 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time, warning residents a tsunami could be on the way. 

The tsunami watch, issued for parts of the Hawaii has been cancelled, but remains in effect Oregon, California, and Washington.  

FIRST REPORT

The earthquake was at a depth of 15 miles. There have been nine aftershocks, from 3.1 to 5.0 magnitude.

The Oregon, California and Washington coasts are under a tsunami watch.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

According to the National Weather Service, the first waves should arrive around 2 a.m. local time (6 a.m. Eastern Time). Residents are being told to seek higher ground.

The National Weather Service tweeted that a buoy just northeast of the epicenter recorded a water displacement of 32 feet.

This story will be updated as we learn additional details.

Chance for rain, snow showers today with gusty winds

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:38 AM

Here's what to expect on the roads today.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • More showers arrive this morning
  • Dry and warming up to end week
  • More rain for weekend

>> 4 tricks to help avoid illness during big temperature changes

DETAILED FORECAST

TODAY: Another batch of light showers off to the west will move in early this morning, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Showers today will mainly fall as rain, but at times a mix with wet snow flakes can occur. An accumulation isn’t expected with the wintry mix. Temperatures will linger in the upper 30s, but fall quickly towards the end of the afternoon. They’ll be gusty winds around 30 mph at times today with any evening rain or snow showers ending rather quickly. 

>> 5-Day Forecast

TOMORROW: Colder temperatures start the day in the mid-20s. Some passing flurries are also possible for the first part of the day. Highs peak in the mid-30s as clouds decrease at nighttime. 

THURSDAY: There will be sunshine throughout the day with temperatures warmer than normal in the low 40s. The day will be dry.

>> County-by-County Weather

FRIDAY: We continue to see temperatures improve with sunshine and a few clouds as highs reach around 50 degrees. 

SATURDAY: The day will be breezy and mild with highs around 50 degrees. Rain showers will start to arrive and become more widespread into the night. 

One dead, one hospitalized after shooting in Dayton

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 2:15 AM

UPDATE @ 2:40 a.m.: One person is dead and another individual was taken to Miami Valley Hospital after a shooting occurred in Dayton early Tuesday morning, according to officials.

RELATED: 3 arrested in Greenville SWAT standoff that began as firearms investigation

Crews were dispatched to the area of N. Upland Avenue and Fairbanks Avenue around 2 a.m. where they found two adult males, both shot with once deceased in the back of a vehicle. 

A homicide detective has been called to the scene, as well as the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. 

The condition of the man taken to Miami Valley Hospital is unknown at this time.

The shooting remains under investigation. 

INITIAL REPORT

Officials are responding to the area of N. Upland Avenue at Fairbanks Avenue for a reported shooting victim.

The incident was reported early Tuesday morning around 2 a.m., per initial reports.

We have a crew on the way to the scene to learn more details about the ordeal.