Charles Chase Merritt: Thoughts on the hearing and is Chase a sociopath or psychopath

UPDATE 2/12/14 – Yesterday, CNN ran another special on the McStay case.  They showed old footage of the interview they did with Chase but this time, they showed a smidgen of him before the interview began.  He was laughing at someone behind the camera, looking like a little boy trying to fit in with the big kids. This little bit, is another example of Chase’s personality that shows him considering himself equal to the professional people that are surrounding him.  I talk more about his further down. 
 
Original story:  If you have not watched the hearing of Chase Merritt, the man who is accused of killing Joseph and Summer McStay and their two children and burying them in the desert, you can do that now by clicking on the video below.

While watching it, it seemed to me that several times during this hearing, Chase seems to feign interest. Whether he was aware of the camera or not is unknown, but later listening to his past attorney, Robert Ponce, Ponce was aware that a camera was there and it was actually a news camera and was asking the news reporters on who gets to come into the court room and who doesn’t. My thought is if Ponce knew, then certainly Merritt know. But, I don’t think he was aware of how crystal clear and closeup the video would be. One thing is for sure, Merritt should never play poker, because you can read everything on his face. During the video around 36:00, Merritt begins to tear up and his eyes turn pink.  We can only assume that Merritt was reacting to Ponce’s words, but he could have been stabbing himself with a sharp pencil for all we know.

After watching the hearing video, I feel as though Chase believes to his core that he is innocent, by his own definition, and his desire to begin the trial as soon as possible is based on that fact that he is pompous. He also has illusions of grandeur. He fully believes that he is an equal to his attorney. He smiles when the council smiles, laughs when a joke is being spoken, listens as an equal, all because he feels that he is an equal. He asked questions and worded his questions in a manner to make him come across as more educated than he really is, not even realizing that with those same questions he is already bogging down his defense because an attorney would already know the answers to those questions. With that, Merritt either doesn’t realize his limitations, or doesn’t care and will push the Judge and the system to get what he needs.  Merritt believes himself to be a skilled orator and this may be another reason that he wants to represent himself.  I believe he actually thinks he can talk and spin his words around so magnificently that he can awe a whole jury full of people.  He won’t be able to strut around the court room as he will be confined to a chair, but he certainly will turn this trial into a circus with him as the ringmaster.

Ponce stated after court to the reporters, that the accused in any case do not get a chance to speak their innocence immediately, and this was the case with Chase. “He was scared to death he was going to die before he got a chance to do it.” 
 
Ponce also stated: 

“There was also financial difficulties with the family with the amount of work being done and so forth, and to be able to shoulder the burden those two aspects of the case.”
 
 “The timely fashion was not going to be appropriate for Mr. Merritt.”
“His hope is that if he represents himself that is will be more of an expeditions type of hearing at this point.” 

Ponce stated that the case would have probably gone on two or three years, and Merritt did not think he would live that long. Ponce said he could not speak how long it will take with Merritt defending himself. 
 
During the hearing, the Judge did warn Merritt that if he made a mistake or missed an opportunity to defend himself, that the Judge would not point it out to him.  He also told him that he would not be allowed to walk around the room, but would have to sit at the table during the proceedings.  Merritt carefully guarded his reactions to this news. 
One thing Ponce said, which I believe is a tell, is that he said that Merritt could stop representing himself. I believe that this will only happen if Merritt believes he is losing. He can always bring out that “heart” card to stall or force the trial to begin all over again. To me, I wonder if Merritt is thinking he can make the trial last longer than if Ponce was his council, by pulling a sick day here and there.  Would not every mistake and every sick day push the trial back for days if not weeks? Could there not be a large margin for error that could qualify for a mistrial and everything would have to start all over again. Ponce’s prediction of 2-3 years, could actually be a swift trial, compared to what is going to come with Merritt as pro se. His desire to get this trial started maybe actually be his desire to be the center of attention and star in his own production, i.e., the trial.
Bottom line, I think that Ponce did not want to be financially burdened with this case that would tie up his practice for the next several years, no matter how much celebrity it may bring him, and this is the main motive why he told the Judge and reporters outside that Merritt was educated enough and understood the implications enough that he could represent himself. 
Go to the bottom of the page to read the difference between a sociopath or psychopath. 

Whether Merritt's expressions were true responses, or an acting job is left to your opinion and I would love to hear them. You can watch it all below: 

Accused murderer will represent himself.

Chase Merritt in hole presumingly he dug.  Keene Engineering prospecting equipment in the background.

One of the McStay graves.
Looking at the first photo you can see that Merritt was very good at digging holes.  He actually was part of Keene Engineering and as you can see by his title was doing research and development.
He was used to moving the equipment around that averaged around 100 plus pounds and digging holes to find minerals that the equipment told him was in the ground.
He also did product demonstrations for the company on site, for example near the Mohave Desert.
Also, for many it is not known or too clear what kind of criminal record Merritt had.  This is a partial copy of a court document.  Merritt pleaded guilty of taking the Ornamental Iron from Miklos Calmar and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.  
Also, according to Hesperia StarAbayom Adepoju took Merritt to small claims court and was awarded more than $2,000 in October 2012, after a failed venture together. A bench warrant was later issued for Merritt due to his failure to pay the judgment and his failure to appear for subsequent hearings.
 
 
VICTIM STATEMENT:

ORNAMENTAL IRON MIKLOS ANDRAS CALMAR.

ACCORDING TO THE POLICE VICTIM MIKLOS RECOVERED THE ITEMS WHICH WERE STOLEN BY THE DEFENDANT. ALSO ACCORDING TO THE POLICE THE TOTAL MATERIAL VALUE WAS $32,250.

CHARLES RAY MERRITT:

JUVENILE HISTORY:

INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH PROBATION DEPARTMENT INQUIRY FIVE YEARS AFTERISHVENILE PROBATION ACTIVITY IS TERMINATED.

2*4-77

7-28?77

8-16w78

10-24-78

ll~27v78

4-16-85

2-4?87

5*21-88

6*17-88

UNK.

(MERRITT)

76P7258 Prob. 1980 (Rev. 5/98)

ADULT HISTORY:

SAN BERNARDINO SO - CT. 1. 459 PC (BURGLARY) - ON
4-13-77: VICTORVILLE SC CASE NO. CONVICTEDCTS.
1w2. DISPO: 36 MOS. PROBATION: 66 DAYS JAIL.

SAN BERNARDINO SO - CT. 1; 459 PC (BURGLARY) - ON
11-8-77: SAN BERNARDINO SC CASE CT. 1:
488 PC: CONVICTED: 60 DAYS JAIL.

SAN BERNARDINO SO - CT. 1; 459 PC (BURGLARY) - ON
8-30~78: VICTORVILLE SC CASE NO. VCR595: CT. 1. 459 PC:
ON 3-16-79; VICTORVILLE SC: SENTENCED 2 YRS.
PRISON. SENTENCE SUSPENDED: 5 YRS. FORMAL.PROBATION.
SAN BERNARDINO SO CT. 1. 459 PC (BURGLARY) - ON
12~5~78: VICTORVILLE SC CASE NO. MV110946. CT. 1. 602.5
PC: CONVICTED: 30 DAYS JAIL.

SAN BERNARDINO SO - CT. 1. 459 PC (BURGLARY): CT. 2;

487 PC (GRAND THEFT) - CALIF. STATE DEPT. OF
CT. 1, 459 PC: NO. B-99767. 2 YRS.

LAPD - CT. 1.. 487.1 PC (GRAND THEFT PROPERTY) - ON
11~3~88. LASC CASE NO. 2. 496 PC
KNOWN STOLEN PROPERTY). FELONY:
CONVICTED: 3 YRS. PROBATION. 365 DAYS JAIL.

CALIF. STATE DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS - CT. 1d D49285:
496.1 PC - 16 MOS. PRISON: CONTRA COSTA COURT 
33192. 9-24-87. PAROLED.

SAN BERNARDINO SO - CT. 1. 496 PC KNOWN

STOLEN PROPERTY) ON 10-27-89. VICTORVILLE SC CASE NO.
FV14709. CT. 1, 496.1 PC: CONVICTED: FELONY,
36 MOS. PROBATION: 14 DAYS JAIL.

CALIF. STATE DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS - CT. 1.
FINISH TERM.

VIOLATION OF

UNK. AGENCY CT. 1: 
LICENSE SUSPENDED OR REVOKED) 

VC (DRIVING WITH
6?14-88. CASE NO.

CON

5-16-95

5-26w95

(MERRITT)

76C6926 - PROB. 5A U92

PLEADED GUILTY)
AND 6 DAYS JAIL.

2 YRS. SUMMARY PROBATION

LA VERNE PD CT. 1, 
LICENSE SUSPENDED OR REVOKED) 
POM95MO430201: CONVICTED: 3 YRS.
$750 FINE AND 130 DAYS L.A.
REVOKED.)

VC (DRIVING WITH
12-27-95, CASE NO.
SUMMARY PROBATION AND
COUNTY JAIL. (PROBATION

COVINA PD CT. 1, vc (DRIVING WITH LICENSE
SUSPENDED OR REVOKED) - CASE NO. CIT95E0829301.
CONVICTED. 7~16?96, CT. 1, 3 YRS. SUMMARY PROBATION AND
FINED $500 AND 120 DAYS COUNTY JAIL. ON 6-4-01
PROBATION TERMINATED.
Is Chase a sociopath or a psychopath? 
A psychopath is incapable of feeling guilt, remorse or empathy for their actions.  Cunning, manipulative and know the difference between right and wrong but do not believe it applies to them.  They are incapable of a bonding relationship and are self-centered, egocentric and narcissistic.  

A Sociopath lacks empathy, is cold, calculated and will use others around them for personal gain.  They lack emotions in response to events and have a limited capacity to feel love.  They have strong love and admiration toward themselves.  They have a grandiose self-image and feel superior to others and even can be delusional.  They can see themselves as a ruler, even God-like.  They don't get others and their emotions, but can mimic it to appear normal.  their high IQ allows them to do this.  They manipulate and use their fakeness to get what they want, and because they have no guilt it is easy for them to do.  Which means they can have affairs without feeling bad.  They don't need anyone else and are secretive about what they do.  They want approval and hate criticism and will do what ever they can to get adulation and admiration and will use their fake emotions and manipulation to get it.   Because they don't get emotions they do not trust anyone and can feel paranoia.  They get easily bored, but will make rash decisions because of their impulsive nature.  They unable to tell the truth and will lie even when they don't need to.  

Another interesting fact about Sociopath's is they are able to amass some wealth will live independently and shun people.  The friends they do have around them are only their to be used.  Although they will tolerate people around them they feel are equal to them, which is hard for them to find with their ego, or someone they revere.  

So what is the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath.  Well, there is little, but the major difference is that psychopaths are more calculated and we usually classify serial killers under that label, as they will create a complex scheme and carry it out.  A sociopath on the other hand is driven by impulse.

About Missing Persons Admin 4632 Articles

Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

Be the first to comment