Trial for disgraced lawyer accused of stabbing, beating his own mother to death delayed

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — UPDATE: The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office said the trial for Richard Merritt has been continued. A new trial date has not been set yet.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A disgraced Decatur attorney accused of stabbing and beating his mother to death is set to face a jury starting next week.

Richard Merritt, 48, has been charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.

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Prosecutors said Merritt killed his mother, 77-year-old Shirley Merritt, at her DeKalb County home in Feb. of 2019.

Merritt had been scheduled to report to custody Feb. 1 after pleading guilty to theft and elder abuse in Cobb, AJC.com previously reported. However, he disappeared after allegedly removing his ankle monitor.’

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A day later, his mother, Shirley Merritt, was found dead at her home in the 1500 block of Planters Row in Tucker, DeKalb police said. Her son had been living there while out on bond.

Merritt was arrested eight months later in Tennessee on Oct. 1. He had changed his appearance, including growing out his hair in the back.

Prior to his disappearance, Merritt had pleaded guilty to settling civil lawsuits without telling his clients and keeping the money for himself. He used the money taken from clients, some elderly or filing medical malpractice claims, to buy a Porsche or go on vacation, investigators said.

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In addition to his 15 years in prison, he was sentenced to 15 years of probation and ordered to pay a restitution of $454,706.

Merritt surrendered his license to practice law in January 2018, according to records from the State Bar of Georgia. He was booked into jail soon after.

Jury selection will begin Monday, May 23 at the DeKalb County courthouse.