A 62-year-old California man was on Tuesday sentenced to death after he was convicted of murdering a family of four and dumping their bodies in a shallow Southern California desert grave.
Charles “Chase” Merritt was convicted in June of killing Joseph McStay, who was his business associate, and McStay’s wife, and their two sons.
The McStays went missing since February 2010, but their bodies were discovered in 2013 when a motorcyclist stumbled upon their skeletal remains in the Mojave Desert and a murder weapon alongside them.
Merritt was arrested in 2014.
Prosecutors said Merritt used a sledgehammer to kill McStay, his wife Summer, and their 3- and 4-year-old sons.
Court records said Merritt committed the crimes because he owed money to McStay and was being cut out of their business of making and selling custom water fountains.
The prosecutors said that financial records showed Merritt tried to loot the business’ bank accounts just before, and after, the disappearance of the family. In one instance, he backdated checks to Feb. 4, 2010, which was the last date anyone had contact with McStay.
When Merritt was given a chance to make a statement, he said he loved Joseph as a brother and would never do anything to hurt him or his family.
The convict will be transferred to San Quentin State Prison until his execution date is set.