The Latest: Jury urges death for California family’s killing

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on jurors reaching a penalty decision in a quadruple murder trial (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

A jury has recommended the death penalty for a Southern California man convicted of killing a family of four with a sledgehammer and burying their bodies in shallow desert graves.

Jurors in San Bernardino made the recommendation Monday for 62-year-old Charles “Chase” Merritt in a case that puzzled investigators for years.

The family vanished from their San Diego County home in 2010. Their bodies were found three years later.

Merritt was convicted this month of the murders of his former business associate Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife, Summer, and the couple’s 4- and 3-year-old sons.

Merritt pleaded not guilty and his lawyers didn’t offer witnesses during the penalty phase of his trial, insisting he’s innocent.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed a moratorium on executions while he’s in office. California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006.

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2:25 p.m.

Jurors have reached a decision on whether to recommend a death sentence for a Southern California man convicted of killing a family of four and burying their bodies in shallow desert graves.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office says the jury’s recommendation will be read in court at 3:45 p.m. Monday.

Charles “Chase” Merritt was convicted this month of the murders of his former business associate Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife, Summer, and the couple’s 4- and 3-year-old sons.

The case puzzled investigators for years after the family vanished from their San Diego County home in 2010. Their bodies were found in 2013.

Merritt pleaded not guilty. His lawyers didn’t offer witnesses during the trial’s penalty phase, insisting he’s not guilty.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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