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Trial of alleged McStay family murderer postponed again

Patrick McStay frustrated by delays in trial of Charles "Chase" Merritt

According to court records, one of the attorneys for Charles “Chase” Merritt, the man accused of murdering Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife and their two preschool-age sons, asked for and received a postponement to the start of the trial.

It was just another delay in the high-profile trial of Merritt who, according to prosecutors, bludgeoned to death the young Fallbrook family during the time of their disappearance in February 2010.

Now, a pretrial hearing will happen Aug. 10; jury selection will start Oct. 29 and testimony and evidence presentation will begin Jan. 7, 2019. Merritt remains in jail without bail.

Early on, it looked like the case would go in front of a jury very quickly because shortly after Merritt was arrested in 2014, he said through his attorney that he had heart failure and wanted his trial to be fast-tracked.

Since then, there have been a string of delays on both sides of the case.

The waiting has started to frustrate Patrick McStay, father of Joey and grandfather to Gianni and Joey.

“I can’t say too much about it,” Patrick said by phone. “I contacted the (district attorney’s) office, and let’s just say I voiced my concerns. I asked why with all the delays that he’s had, why the court isn’t abiding by Marsy’s Law?”

Marsy’s Law, the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, expanded the rights of victims and victims families in California. One of the rights is to that of a speedy trial and prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.

“Speaking on behalf of my son, grandchildren, and daughter-in-law, one of our rights is the right to a speedy trial, and I asked why that was not being followed,” Patrick said.

He has not received a response.

“On my count, we’ve had five delays, just in attorneys with this guy (Merritt),” Patrick said. “He’s claimed he had six months to live at one point and here we are, four years later, and I don’t see him dying yet.”

Patrick said the delays have been frustrating because traveling from his home in Spring, Texas, outside of Houston to attend hearings and trials in San Bernardino is costly.

“I was out there in May 2015 for what was supposed to be preliminary, waited four days, couldn’t stay any longer and then we missed the preliminary trial after that,” Patrick said. “From that point forward, so far, I have been very cautious and very lucky that I haven’t booked any more flights.”

Patrick said he raises funds to support his travel back and forth through his website,, where he sells paperback, Kindle Reader and audiobook versions of his book, “McStays: Taken Too Soon.” There is also a GoFundMe account people can contribute to under the support link on the page.

Patrick wouldn’t say whether he anticipates being called to testify at the trial when it happens, but wouldn’t rule it out.

“That worries me as well, because if you’re called to testify, normally, can't be in the courtroom until after you testify and you still can't if you're held subject to recall, as I understand,” he said. “The judge can waive that right as a parent. So if I do have to testify, I will ask the judge to do that. Because I have to be there.”

It also bothers Patrick that it seems as though with all the delays and time gone by, the attention the trial is getting from the media seems less and less.

“As far as the media goes, it was the hottest thing going and all of a sudden now, it’s died off,” he said. “People have to understand, I am fighting for my son, my grandchildren, and my daughter-in-law. I can’t understand why people aren’t speaking out more about this and why the media isn’t paying more attention.”

Patrick still thinks now and again about how he suggested to Joey that he look for a house in the Fallbrook area.

“I used to come out there and stay with Joey. I gambled, went to the casinos. I knew that area because at that time I stayed in San Clemente, with Joey,” he said. “He would call me and tell me that he was going to look at houses. And now, I kind of wonder whether I should have kept my mouth shut.”

Jeff Pack can be reached at [email protected].


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