Leslie Merritt update: Former freeway shootings suspect to get gun back

Posted at 9:00 AM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 13:40:47-05

The former freeway shootings suspect will be getting his gun back. 

A judge ordered Friday that officials must return Leslie Merritt Jr.'s seized firearm, according to his attorney Jason Lamm. 

A court official said the Arizona Department of Public Safety has until January 31 to surrender the gun.

Merritt spent months behind bars facing charges connected to a series of shootings along Phoenix-area freeways that caused Valley-wide panic.  

VIDEO: Phoenix freeway shooting suspect Leslie Merritt Jr. talks to ABC15

Merritt was released from jail in April after charges against him were dropped when a ballistic expert found the Arizona Department of Public Safety's crime lab had come to a faulty conclusion and noted the bullets from shootings couldn't be "excluded or identified" as having come from Merritt's gun.
Merritt Jr. filed a lawsuit alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and aiding and abetting torturous conduct.
Prosecutors and DPS officials both maintain that the case remains open and under investigation.

Merritt is still the main suspect in the DPS investigation.

DPS Director Frank Milstead said, "I believe we have enough evidence to develop probable cause to believe that (Merritt) is the correct suspect.”

Merritt's attorneys say they remain shocked at Milstead's comments.

All of the charges have been dropped against Merritt, but that does not mean DPS can't file charges again.