Judge orders release of gun, vehicle in I-10 shooter’s case

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Judge Warren Granville on Friday ordered that formerly accused freeway shooter Leslie Merritt will get his gun and vehicle back on June 30.  

Merritt was accused of four of the 11 freeway shootings that terrorized the Valley last fall.  

He was charged with 15 counts, including endangerment, drive-by shooting, unlawful discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault, and disorderly conduct in connection with freeway shootings.

In April, all charges against him were dismissed without prejudice. 

[RELATED: Lawyer: All charges against accused I-10 shooter dismissed]

Merritt all along vehemently denied being responsible for the August 29 and 30 freeway shootings. Police have said four cars were shot while driving along various stretches of the I-10.  Detectives found bullets and bullet fragments in each case. 

Ballistics tests matched all of them to Merritt Jr.'s 9mm handgun, according to the investigation documents. 

Merritt Jr. told police on Sept. 18 that he could not have been the shooter because his handgun had been sitting in a pawn shop for a month and a half. But he later said the weapon had been pawned three or four weeks earlier and then near the end of the interview, that the gun was pawned on a specific date in late August.

Detectives told Merritt that they had video of him pawning his handgun on Aug. 30. Finally, he said he remembered pawning the gun on Aug. 29, because he and his fiancee needed money to buy baby formula for their daughter, according to a transcript of his police interview.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix freeway shootings]

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