Defense targets DPS expert in Merritt case

Posted at 6:02 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-18 02:11:39-04

A new motion filed by Leslie Merritt Jr.'s defense team this week is taking direct aim at the Department of Public Safety's use of an expert witness.

In the Tuesday filing, the freeway shooting suspect's attorneys say prior to serving as an intelligence analyst for DPS, Tracy Foster was an administrative assistant and was awarded her new position as a promotion.

"Tracy Foster has no training in psychiatry or psychology. She has no experience as a social worker, counselor, or mental health professional," the Tuesday motion states. "Simply stated, she lacks the requisite background to testify as an expert."

Foster's reports have so far focused on analyzing Merritt's phone records and postings on Facebook.

In her analysis, she stated that a review of Merritt's Facebook page found posts, some about the freeway shootings, to be anti-government, anti-law enforcement, and pro-drug. The report also called into question witnesses' corroboration of phone conversations that attorneys have cited in Merritt's defense.

In the motion, Merritt's attorneys question both the reliability and the relevance of Foster's testimony, citing her "argumentative speculations" and her own acknowledgments "that there is no scientific theory which governed her interpretative processes."

"Foster is no more qualified to testify as to behavioral tendency based upon generic social media posts than is an ordinary person on the street, and the means by which she arrived at her conclusions are no more scientifically valid than a Ouija board," the filing reads.

ABC15 reached out to DPS for a comment on the motion, but officials referred questions to the County Attorney's Office.

Merritt has been behind bars for nearly six months, charged with four of the 11 freeway shootings that happened in 2015.

Merritt recently filed a $10 million notice of claim, naming the State of Arizona, Maricopa County, Governor Doug Ducey and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.