Domestic violence case dismissed against former freeway shooting suspect

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Leslie Merritt Jr. after his release from jail in April (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Leslie Merritt Jr. after his release from jail in April (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The domestic violence charges against former freeway shooting suspect Leslie Merritt Jr. have been dropped, according to his attorney, Jason Lamm.

Lamm also said on Monday morning that the Arizona Department of Public Safety has released Merritt's gun.

The alleged domestic violence violation took place at a residence near 67th and Maryland avenues.

Merritt Jr. was arrested by Glendale police in October 2016 for allegedly violating a domestic violence order of protection.

[RELATED: Former freeway shooting suspect denies violating court order]

In January of this year, a judge ordered the Arizona Department of Public Safety to return the gun that was seized from Merritt in 2015 as evidence in the freeway shootings investigation.

Merritt was the primary suspect in that case.

[RELATED: Judge OKs former I-10 shooting suspect to get his gun back]

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.

[Special section: Phoenix freeway shootings]

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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


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