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People of California v Charles Merritt

TrueAllele interprets DNA effects from murdered family found in desert

Crime In February 2010, Joseph (40) and Summer McStay (43) drove away from their Fallbrook, California home with their two children (3 & 4), never to be seen again. Three years later, their bodies were found buried in shallow graves in the Mojave Desert. Charles Merritt, one of Joseph McStay’s business partners, was arrested a year later.
Evidence Clothing and cords reportedly used to tie up the bodies were recovered from the graves.
DNA Bode Cellmark Forensics developed DNA data from the evidence.
Match The manual methods used by the lab were unable to interpret the limited DNA data.
TrueAllele On the same DNA data, the computer’s analysis statistically excluded defendant Charles Merritt from the evidence.
Cybergenetics    On March 10 and 11, 2019, Beatriz Pujols and Dr. Mark Perlin testified at the trial in San Bernardino, CA about the computer’s match statistics for the degraded DNA.
Outcome On June 10, Charles Merritt was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. On January 21, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Michael Smith sentenced him to death.
Media

  • Where did the McStays go? LA Times
  • Jury to deliberate fate of man charged in McStay family's killing NBC San Diego
  • McStay murder trial: Man is convicted of killing family and burying their bodies in the Mojave Desert LA Times
  • California man guilty of killing family of 4 found in desert graves CBS News
  • Charles Merritt gets death penalty for brutal murders of McStay family found buried in desert True Crime Daily