New details emerge in latest arrest of former freeway shooting suspect

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

New details are emerging in the latest arrest of former freeway shooting suspect Leslie Merritt, Jr.

He walked out of jail early Friday morning after being arrested for allegedly violating a domestic violence order of protection on Wednesday night.

A copy of the order shows it was filed by Brittany Pearcy, 18, who reportedly is pregnant with Merritt’s child.

In the order taken out two weeks ago, Pearcy claims that throughout their relationship Merritt threatened to kill her, kept her from her family, belittled her and was very controlling. The order prohibits Merritt from having any contact with Pearcy, her current boyfriend, or the grandmother with whom she lives, Beverly Vail.

The court document also indicates Merritt threatened to beat up Pearcy’s boyfriend and threatened Vail.

“He was told to leave her alone and to stop threatening her. He chose not to so. It’s his own fault. He needs to realize that he’s not above the law,” said Vail, contacted at the apartment she shares with her granddaughter.

Glendale police arrested Merritt Wednesday night after he allegedly showed up at their apartment and made threats.

“I trust the police department to do their job. So, if he wants to be stupid enough to break his order of protection then he’s got what’s coming to him. And he’s going to get it,” said Vail.

Merritt’s sister Janice, lives in the same complex as Pearcy and Vail. In fact, her apartment is directly below. She defended her brother saying he has done nothing wrong.

“My brother’s a good person, kind hearted, a great father. He didn’t do anything. People need to leave him alone. It’s simple. Our family’s been through enough,” said Janice.

She said her brother did not violate the protection order because, since being served, he has not gone to the property listed on the order or contacted the people he’s ordered to stay away from.

 “She’s (Pearcy) the one messaging him. She’s the one contacting him. He wants nothing to do with this lying girl. That’s that. She is nothing but a liar. Period. My brother was never here that night,” said Janice.

At the time of his arrest in the freeway shootings case, Merritt was engaged to another woman who was the mother of his two children.

Calls to Merritt's attorneys for comment on his latest arrest weren't immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Merritt was arrested in September 2015 after authorities said ballistic tests tied him to four of the 11 shootings that occurred on Phoenix area freeways last summer. The string of shootings rattled the Phoenix area.

The shootings caused panic on Phoenix-area freeways, where 11 vehicles were hit in August and September. The head of the Department of Public Safety said the shootings were the work of a domestic terrorist, and authorities heightened patrols and surveillance in pursuit of a suspect.

Detectives took Merritt into custody on Sept. 18, prompting Gov. Doug Ducey to declare "We got him!" on Twitter five minutes after the arrest.

His lawyers immediately began raising questions about the evidence, citing ballistics information and phone records they say provided an alibi for their client.

They also pointed to road rage shootings that happened on Phoenix-area freeways after Merritt was arrested, saying the cases were proof that the culprit was still out there.

In April, a judge allowed Merritt to be released from jail amid questions about evidence authorities say links him to the crimes.

Lawyers for the 22-year-old landscaper filed a lawsuit last month, claiming Arizona authorities rushed to judgment and failed to provide evidence that he was present at any of the shootings.

The lawsuit alleges false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and aiding and abetting tortious conduct.

Merritt's lawsuit did not specify the amount of money he is seeking. His attorneys previously said he was seeking $10 million from the state, Maricopa County and the office of County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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