Prosecutors still plan to try Merritt in store shooting

Despite an error that allowed the suspect in the shooting of a convenience store clerk last year to be released from jail, prosecutors still plan to try the case.

Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said Tuesday that attorneys for Michael Merritt filed a motion seeking to have Merritt released because he had not been brought to trial within nine months, and that motion was granted by Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones.

“We have not dismissed the case and we have not lost it,” Hunter said. “We still plan to try the case.”

The trial for Merritt, 20, who is charged with criminal attempt capital murder and aggravated robbery, is set for Monday in First Division Circuit Court.

On Friday, Little Rock television station KATV reported that the trial was set for Oct. 23, but Hunter said that date was incorrect.

The nine-month speedy trial limit kicked in because Merritt had been held in jail since he was arrested the day after the shooting at the A&Y Shell Station at 3110 Camden Road on Oct. 18, and was unable to post a $250,000 cash-only bond that was set during a probable cause hearing last year.

According to testimony at that hearing, video surveillance from the store showed that the clerk, Haidem Shah, was shot by a black male. After failing to open the cash register, the male allegedly shot Shah again before leaving the store heading east.

Shah was in critical condition after the shooting but has recovered.

A day after the shooting, an off-duty police officer was in the area of the store on Union Avenue when she saw Merritt, who was reportedly wearing shoes that matched the shoes worn by the suspect in the shooting.

After Merritt was arrested, police served a search warrant at an apartment in the 4500 block of Union Avenue and recovered clothing and a hat that matched what the suspect was wearing, as well as a gun.