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Judge OKs former I-10 shooting suspect to get his gun back

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Former freeway shooting suspect Leslie Merritt Jr. talks to the media after being released from jail on April 19, 2016 (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Former freeway shooting suspect Leslie Merritt Jr. talks to the media after being released from jail on April 19, 2016 (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Attorney Jason Lamm addressing reporters after Friday's proceeding. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Attorney Jason Lamm addressing reporters after Friday's proceeding. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: Jason Lamm/Twitter) (Source: Jason Lamm/Twitter)
Leslie Merritt Jr. was arrested on Sept. 18, 2015. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Leslie Merritt Jr. was arrested on Sept. 18, 2015. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The string of shootings rattled the Phoenix area. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The string of shootings rattled the Phoenix area. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The one-time accused Interstate 10 freeway shooter will get his gun back, a judge ruled Friday.

Attorneys for Leslie Merritt were back in court asking Judge Warren Granville that Merritt’s 9 mm weapon be returned to him.

"Judge orders police to return gun to my client Les Merritt Jr., wrongfully arrested in #Phoenix I-10 #FreewayShootings," attorney Jason Lamm tweeted just before 9 a.m.

"The judge had his mind made up after hearing everything," Lamm told reporters after the proceeding. "It was a well-reasoned ruling. It's one we're appreciative of and it's the right thing."       

Granville ordered the Arizona Department of Public Safety to return the gun by Tuesday, Jan 31. Troopers seized the weapon as evidence in 2015 when Merritt was their main suspect.

"I think the state has had every opportunity to do each and every bit of testing that was available," Lamm said Friday. "We know independent experts brought on by the state and the County Attorney’s Office, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, tested the gun. They said it wasn’t a match, the projectiles. So they’ve had more than ample opportunity to do everything and at this point it’s time for Les to have his gun back.” 

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

He was arrested and spent seven months in jail.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix Freeway Shootings]

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.

But in April, all charges against Merritt were dismissed without prejudice. 

In June 2016, Granville ordered that Merritt be given his gun and vehicle back on June 30. But that date came and went and Merritt did not get that weapon back.

"We've always believed this has been so much more than a gun at issue," Lamm said Friday. "This is about getting another affirmation for Leslie that he completely innocent of the heinous crimes of which he was charged in the I-10 freeway shootings. It's a really good day. It's an important symbolic moment if nothing else."

Lamm said Merritt has the acclimating as best he can in recent days.

"Work, kids, trying to lead a normal life," he said. "You know, it's hard. You're in a 6 by 10 box for 222 days. That just doesn't go away overnight. Trying to be a normal as possible getting back to life. He's a guy who just would have been part of the backbone of society had this never happened."

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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