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Guilty! Guilty! Guilty and Guilty! Charles ‘Chase’ Merrit, 62, guilty of murdering his business associate Joseph McStay, his wife, two young sons, 4 and 3, with a sledgehammer and burying them in the desert ‘because he owed them money’

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Circumstantial evidence help jurors in San Bernardino find 62-year-old California man guilty of killing family of four,  nine years ago
Charles ‘Chase’ Merrit was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder on Monday of a San Bernadino family whose remains were ‘accidentally’ uncovered in the California desert, three years after they disappeared
Merrit, 62, was found guilty of bludgeoning to death his business associate’s entire family including two young children with a sledgehammer and burying them in the desert ‘because he owed them money’
Jury convicted Merritt of bludgeoning to death Joseph McStay, his wife, Summer McStay, and the couple’s sons, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr
When Merritt killed the family with a sledgehammer, he owed Joseph McStay $30,000 and was being cut out of the victim’s water fountains business, prosecutors say 
The entire McStay had suddenly vanished from their home in February 2010 
For years, officials were uncertain what had happened to the family, and believed, for a time, they may have voluntarily relocated to Mexico  
Motorcyclists came across their shallow graves in the California desert in 2013
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty, if he’s convicted
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty – despite California Governor Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on capital punishment in the state in March 2019. Sentencing is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Prosecutors declined to comment after the verdict, escorting the McStays’ relatives from the courthouse.
After the McStay family disappeared, authorities found bowls of uneaten popcorn at their San Diego County home, which had no signs of forced entry, and their car parked at a strip mall near the Mexican border. 
Questions remain regarding the family’s disappearance. Prosecutors acknowledge details of the killings aren’t entirely clear but say the evidence from the family’s car, cellphone towers and financial accounts link Merritt to the killings.
Authorities said McStay was cutting Merritt out of the business in early February and the two met on Feb. 4 in Rancho Cucamonga, where Merritt lived at the time.
Prosecutors highlight financial records showing Merritt’s attempt to loot the business bank accounts just before and after the family disappeared and backdated checks to Feb. 4, knowing it was the last day anyone had contact with McStay.
Phone records show McStay called Merritt seven times after the Feb. 4 meeting, with defense lawyers arguing that McStay wouldn’t likely do that if he had just fired Merritt.

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