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By Jim Shilander

The man San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and the County’s District Attorney believe killed the four members of the McStay family will apparently represent himself in court.

Charles Merritt, a former business associate of Joseph McStay, was arrested and charged with the murder of all four members of the McStay family in November. During a court appearance last week, Merritt requested and was granted a motion to represent himself at his upcoming trial in an effort to have the case heard more quickly. He has pleaded not guilty. Merritt’s attorney said his client suffers from a medical condition and wants to expedite the trial.

The McStays were residents of San Clemente before moving to Fallbrook, but maintained ties with many in the city before going missing in February 2010. The bodies of all four McStay family members, Joseph McStay, his wife, Summer McStay and their two sons, Gianni and Joseph McStay Jr., were found in November 2013 in rural San Bernardino County by a hiker.

If convicted, Merritt could face the death penalty. The judge in the case, Michael A. Smith, set a pre-trial status hearing for Feb. 20 and a preliminary hearing for April 7.

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