SAN BERNARDINO — The accused McStay family killer has again hired new legal counsel, after opting in February to represent himself a second time, according to Superior Court of San Bernardino County spokesman Dennis Smith.
Charles Ray Merritt, 58, hired Riverside-based attorneys Rajan Maline and James McGee II, who were present during a confirmation of counsel hearing Friday, Smith said in a statement.
Maline and McGee are the latest in a string of attorneys who’ve represented Merritt since his 2014 arrest in connection to the 2010 killings of Joseph McStay, 40, his wife Summer, 43, and their two young sons, all from Fallbrook.
Maline was previously part of the team of attorneys Merritt requested to relieve in January, which included attorneys Jimmy Mettias, David Askander and Sharon Brunner. That granted request came less than a week after at least two of the lawyers requested to be removed, court records showed at the time.
Merritt fired that team of attorneys amid his unwillingness to waive time for trial even as those attorneys indicated they were not ready to start proceedings in April, according to court records.
Nearly a year before relieving the aforementioned attorneys, Merritt also fired attorney Robert Ponce. Merritt cited purportedly failing health due to congestive heart failure and a fear that criminal proceedings would drag on too long when he informed Ponce that he wanted to part ways, Ponce said at the time.
Meanwhile, prosecutors alleged last June that Merritt bludgeoned the McStays to death with a three-pound sledgehammer before burying their bodies in shallow graves near Stoddard Wells Road in Victorville, according to a previous Daily Press report.
His former defense has called the evidence against Merritt “very circumstantial” and previously contended there is not a shred of physical proof to tie him to the murders.
Following Merritt’s retention of Maline and McGee on Friday, the case was continued until March 23 for a discovery hearing, according to Smith.