Mike Ramos

During a news conference in November, District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said about 60 warrants had been served. But that number has since changed to 35, and prosecutors are not saying why.

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 01/28/15, 8:44 PM PST |

Authorities have no legal basis to block public access to dozens of search warrants filed in San Bernardino Superior Court in the McStay family murder case, according to a motion filed Wednesday by an attorney representing 18 news organizations.

Citing its ongoing investigation and concern over it being sabotaged by the media, the Deputy District Attorney Mark Vos filed a motion Monday opposing the release of the documents until after the preliminary hearing.

Charles Ray “Chase” Merritt, 57, of Homeland has been arrested and charged in the Feb. 4, 2010, bludgeoning deaths of Joseph McStay, 40, his wife, Summer, 43, and their two sons, Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3. During his arraignment in November, Merritt pleaded not guilty to charges of multiple murder that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Homicide investigators say Merritt fatally bludgeoned the McStays in their Fallbrook home, then buried their bodies in shallow graves in the Mojave Desert near Victorville. The skeletal remains were discovered by an off-road motorcyclist in November 2013, and evidence found at the graves tied Merritt to the killings, authorities said.

A San Diego Superior Court judge on Jan. 23 unsealed four search warrants filed in 2010 by a San Diego County sheriff’s detective. San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith will decide Friday if the warrants filed in San Bernardino will be unsealed. Merritt will also appear in court that day for a pretrial hearing.

“The (District Attorney’s Office) should not be able to thwart the public’s right of access with indefinite claims of on-going, never-ending investigations, particularly where, as here, the investigation has turned into a prosecution,” La Verne attorney Kelly Aviles said in her motion filed Wednesday.

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