BREAKING: YS murder suspects plead not guilty, could face death penalty

By Anna Bolton - [email protected]

XENIA — The brothers accused of murdering two in Yellow Springs pled not guilty to all charges April 7 and are facing capital punishment.

Bret Merrick, 24, pled not guilty to eight charges — two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, felonious assault and tampering with evidence — during the first arraignment of the day in Judge Stephen Wolaver’s courtroom.

A few hours later, Dustin Merrick, 26, pled not guilty to nine charges — two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, and obstructing justice — under the direction of Judge Michael Buckwalter.

The two were indicted by a Greene County Grand Jury on charges stemming from the Jan. 15 homicides of William “Skip” Brown and Sherri Mendenhall, both whom were shot to death in or outside their residences.

The indictments carry firearm specifications and capital specifications, which means the defendants could face the death penalty if convicted.

Both Merricks are currently being held in the Greene County Jail. Bond for each was previously set at $5 million. For Bret Merrick, Wolaver stated that there will be no bond per Article I Section 9 of the Ohio Constitution.

“The court finds the proof of this case is evident, presumption is great, and that there is a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any person in the community therefore … the court will not set bail,” he said.

Buckwalter said the court would continue the existing $5 million bond with no 10 percent for Dustin Merrick.

Wolaver set a pretrial for Bret Merrick for April 11 and a final pre-trial for April 21. After Bret Merrick waived his right to a speedy trial, Wolaver set a jury trial for Sept. 11. Attorney Anthony Vannoy notified the court that there would be a change of counsel and that Attorney Dennis Lieberman would further represent Bret Merrick.

Dustin Merrick’s new attorneys, Gregory Meyers and William Mooney, asked the court to consider accepting a specific waiver of speedy trial rights, setting the time frame from today to Nov. 30. Buckwalter accepted the specifications and set a pre-trial for Dustin Merrick for May 25, a final pre-trial for Sept. 29 and a jury trial for Nov. 6.

Assistant Prosecutors Cheri Stout and David Hayes are representing the state in these cases.

By Anna Bolton

[email protected]

Reach Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.

Reach Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.