By KATIE McLAUGHLIN
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (Court TV) — Jury selection begins Monday, May 15, in the trial of a disgraced Georgia attorney accused of the beating and stabbing death of his 77-year-old mother.
Charges against Richard Merritt included malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony in connection with the 2019 death of Shirley Merritt at her DeKalb County home.
According to reports, Shirley cooked Richard a final family meal on February 1, 2019 — the day he was supposed to report to prison for theft and other related charges. Richard had been living with his mother while out on bond. Authorities say he killed her, cut off his ankle monitor and fled in her Lexus SUV, sparking a nationwide manhunt.
US Marshals caught up with Richard eight months later in Nashville.
Richard, now 49, was a personal injury lawyer before he pleaded guilty to charges of theft, forgery and elder exploitation in January 2019 for stealing more than $420,000 from over a dozen clients. According to prosecutors, he settled malpractice suits and pocketed the settlement money for himself without notifying his clients.
In that case, a judge sentenced Richard to 15 years in prison but gave him a couple of weeks to get his affairs in order before beginning his sentence.
According to the State Bar of Georgia, Richard surrendered his law license back in January 2018, prior to being booked in the theft case.
Merritt is currently serving 15 years for violating his probation on top of the 15-year sentence he was given for theft and exploiting the elderly. He was also ordered to pay $454,706 in restitution.