Freeway shootings update: Leslie Merritt Jr. ankle monitor removed

PHOENIX - The State of Arizona is no longer tracking the man they believed was the primary suspect in the freeway shootings.

ABC15 has learned Leslie Merritt Jr. had his ankle monitor removed on Monday.

On Monday morning, all charges were dismissed against Merritt.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety denied interview requests from ABC15 on Monday, but released the following statement:

“Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS) in conjunction with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office (MCAO) moved to dismiss charges without prejudice to complete forensic examinations. Additional forensic testing and analysis could not be completed in time for the current trial date without compromising justice. This is an active investigation. ADPS will continue to work closely with the county attorney's office to ensure a full and accurate examination of all evidence in this case. As this investigation is on-going, ADPS will not be entertaining any interviews concerning this case at this time.”

On Tuesday morning, ABC15 obtained a motion filed by Merritt's attorneys to unseal the pleadings.

The motions state, "The Court was also concerned that both the media and citizens of the community could utilize discovery materials to contact witnesses and potentially influence their testimony, thereby depriving all parties of the right to a fair trial. But those concerns are now moot that this case has been dismissed."

Merritt was released from jail last week after a judge reduced his bond to $0.

Merritt was arrested in August and indicted on 15 felony counts in connection with several of the 11 confirmed shootings which happened on Valley freeways last year. DPS officials said they had ballistic evidence tying him to four shooting incidents on Interstate 10 which happened between August 27 and 29.

Merritt entered a plea of not guilty, and his lawyers have challenged the strength of the state's evidence against him, pointing out officials altered the timeline of when they occurred, and accused DPS of lying to witnesses and withholding evidence .

Merritt and his lawyers filed a lawsuit last month against the State of Arizona, Maricopa County, Gov. Doug Ducey and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery for $10 million in compensation for lost wages, legal fees and emotional stress.
 

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