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.

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Thousands without power along U.S. 35 in western Montgomery County

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 12:23 AM
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 2:19 AM

UPDATE @ 2:23 a.m.:

According to the DP&L outage map, the number of affected customers has dropped to 1,084. The estimated restoration time is 3 a.m.

UPDATE @ 12:35 a.m.:

The number of reported outages now stands at 2,101, according to the DP&L online outage map.

INITIAL REPORT

More than 4,000 Dayton Power & Light customers in New Lebanon, along U.S. 35, are without power and we're working to find out why. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: All eyes on Tropics, Alberto

According to the DP&L outage map, the outage is affecting 4,013 in the area of the Voyager Village Trailer Park and the Snickers Bar & Restaurant, between North Lutheran Church and Diamond Mill roads. 

An email to our newsroom describes a "complete power outage, lots of emergency vehicles" near the trailer park and the bar/restaurant. 

We will update this developing report as information becomes available. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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All eyes on the Tropics and Alberto; remnants could reach Miami Valley

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 10:36 PM

Subtropical Storm Alberto formed in the Caribbean Sea near Cancun Mexico Friday morning. The system is forecast to slowly strengthen as it moves into the Gulf Of Mexico, perhaps threatening the northern Gulf Coast around Memorial Day. There is also some potential it could influence the weather in the Miami Valley late next week.

Alberto, the first named storm of the Atlantic Ocean season, is forecast to strengthen as it emerges into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center brings the system to strong tropical storm strength before making landfall somewhere along the Louisiana to Florida coastlines, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said.

Long range model tracks show that the remnants of Alberto could influence the weather here in the middle or later half of next week. The main threat for this area would be significant rain.

RELATED: 1st named storm of Atlantic season could hit Gulf states Memorial Day

There is still a lot to keep an eye on through the holiday weekend, Elwell said.

It also is important to note that your WHIO Weather App may alert you if the Miami Valley is placed within the uncertainty cone issued by the National Hurricane Center sometime this weekend. If you get that alert, it doesn’t mean to expect a tropical storm … but that there is an increased possibility of some influence of the storm.

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Fire causes ‘significant damage’ to farmhouse south of West Milton

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 8:51 PM
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 11:55 PM

RAW FOOTAGE: Fire engulfs back of farmhouse south of West Milton

UPDATE @ 11:55 p.m.

Fire crews are expected to remain on scene into the early morning hours Saturday after a fire broke out Friday night at a Frederick Garland Road farmhouse south of West Milton.

“We were dispatched out to a structure fire fully engulfed,” said Ken Saunders of the Laura Fire Department.

Nobody was home at the time of the fire reported around 8:30 p.m., but the American Red Cross chapter will be contacted to assist the residents, he said.

(JIM NOELKER / STAFF)

The cause of the fire and estimated losses to the structure and contents are not determined.

“The damage is substantial,” Saunders said.

Although the department was able to maintain a steady water supply through tanker trucks and mutual aid from area departments, including Pleasant Hill, Ludlow Falls and West Milton, the age of the house posed a challenge, he said.

“Anytime that you’ve got an old farmhouse you’ve got repairs and updates that’s went on over time, so you’ve got ceilings over ceilings, plaster lathe ... that’s all worked against us.”

There were reports of pets inside the home, but Saunders said he was unable to confirm. 

UPDATE @ 9:30 p.m.

Family members were all able to escape a fire that broke out tonight inside a two-story farmhouse south of West Milton.

An hour later, the home was still burning with heavy smoke billowing into the sky, and crews were called from Arcanum to the scene to provide extra manpower.

FIRST REPORT

Crews were called tonight to a fire that broke out at a two-story farmhouse.

The fire was reported around 8:30 p.m. in the 11100 block of West Frederick Garland Road, according to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.

>> West Milton man seriously injured in crash involving trash truck

According to initial reports, the back of the home was engulfed when firefighters arrived.

Mutual aid was requested from area fire departments, including Pitsburg, to assist crews at the scene.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Boil advisory issued for Franklin Twp.

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 5:57 PM

A boil advisory has been issued for some residents of this Warren County township.

The affected areas include Pekin Road addresses 2895-3209 and all of Honeytree Lane. 

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Residents in these areas are advised to boil water for two minutes over the next 24 hours.

Anyone affected can call Warren County Water & Sewer for further details at (513) 695-1377. 

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