MISSOULA — Colton Merritt of Missoula pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to killing his father. Merritt, 22 years old, is charged with deliberate homicide for allegedly shooting his father, Dan Merritt, at their Missoula home earlier this month.
The defendant called 911 to report the body on January 4 and stated he “made sure he was dead” after an argument broke out at their home, according to court documents.
Merritt is being held on $2 million bond in the Missoula County jail.
His next court hearing is set for March 23.
(JANUARY 5) Colton Merritt has been charged with his shooting his father 19 times with a .22 bolt action rifle, and claiming it was self-defense.
Merritt, 22 years old, is charged with one count of deliberate homicide in the shooting death of 57-year old Daniel Merritt. It happened on Sunday at their home in the 4700 block of Bailey Street in Missoula. Prosecutors say that Missoula County 911 received a call from Merritt on Monday after 4 p.m. stating there was a dead body at his home and that he shot his father in self-defense.
Colton reportedly told the dispatcher his father was outside his bedroom door and threatening to shoot him. When his father entered the bedroom, Colton shot him before "his father made physical contact," according to court documents. Colton told the dispatcher that he "made sure he was dead" and that he continued to shoot his father because he was twitching and wanted to put him "out of his misery."
It was revealed in court on Tuesday that the shooting actually happened on Sunday and that Colton didn’t call 911 until 21 hours after the shooting.
Missoula County prosecutor Jordan Kilby said during a search warrant executed at the home Monday evening, law enforcement officers found hash oil products in the defendant's room. Kilby also said during Tuesday's initial court appearance that Daniel had filed an eviction notice with Missoula Justice Court in late December to remove Colton from the home.
Members of the Merritt family told law enforcement officers that Colton had told many family members that he pointed the gun at his father about a month prior to the fatal shooting.
Merritt's bail was set at $2 million and is due back in court on January 25th.