Atlanta lawyer accused of stabbing his own mother guilty on all counts

Richard Vinson Merritt, 44, is being sought by U.S. marshals in connection with the Saturday, Feb. 2, 2018, stabbing death of his 77-year-old mother, Shirley Vinson Merritt, at her Stone Mountain, Georgia, home. Photo: U.S. Marshals Service

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A disgraced attorney Richard Merritt will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole – after a jury found him guilty of killing his 77-year-old mother with a dumbbell and a knife.

Prosecutors said Richard Merritt brutally beat and stabbed his mother, 77-year-old Shirley Merritt, to death in 2019, on the same day he was supposed to report to prison for unrelated financial crimes.

Wednesday was day 3 of the trial that has gotten national attention.

This case started back in February 2019 on the day Merritt was supposed to turn himself in to prison for stealing money from elderly clients. His family said he planned on cutting off his ankle bracelet and leaving town so he didn’t have to serve his time. His mother Shirley didn’t want him to do that, so he killed her and took off to Tennessee.

He changed his name, got a new job, met a new girlfriend on a dating site, and was living with her when U.S. Marshals picked him up in Nashville.

“This monster took this dumbbell and proceeded to bludgeon my mother right in front of me,” Merritt said. “And she stepped moving at this point.”

Merritt said a man with a pistol to his back brought him downstairs, then came back a few minutes later with a kitchen knife and “proceeded to stab my mother repeatedly in front of me.”

He was charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault & possession of a knife while committing a felony.

The trial took three days. On the same day of closing arguments (Wednesday) it took a jury only 90 minutes to find Merritt guilty on all 6 charges.

A judge sentenced him to life without parole plus 5 years.

A relative, Mike Jefcoat addressed the jury after sentencing and Merritt went after him.

Merritt plans on appealing.





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