Dustin Merrick, 25, sits in court while his team of attorneys confer. Feb. 2, 2017. TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF
Photo: TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF
Photo: TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF

Judge finds probable cause against 2 brothers in Greene County murders

Dustin Merrick and Bret Merrick, two brothers accused in a double homicide near Yellow Springs last month, will have their cases sent to a grand jury.

Judge Michael Murry found probable cause for the two being responsible in the homicides, ruling in favor of the prosecution after a hearing Thursday in Xenia Municipal Court.

Dustin Merrick, 25, was charged with two counts of aggravated murder, while his brother Bret Merrick, 24, was charged with five felonies, including two counts of complicity to aggravated murder.

Both had their bonds increased to $5 million each in the shooting deaths of William “Skip” Brown, 44, and Sherri Mendenhall, 63, on Jan. 15.

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Dustin entered the courtroom first Thursday morning as he looked around, made no eye contact with anyone and said nothing. He flashed several smiles when lawyers came in.

Bret sat in the juror’s box with his lawyer, while Dustin sat with his team of lawyers.

Members of the Merrick and Brown families sat behind the defense team, offering little facial expressions as witnesses delivered their testimonies.

Kelly Edwards, Greene County Sheriff’s lead detective in the investigation, was the first witness called and testified that during the Jan. 20 interview at Dustin Merrick’s home, Merrick confirmed he and Brown had a working relationship, describing his title as Brown’s “right-hand man.”

RELATED: TIMELINE: Greene County double homicides

According to Edwards’ testimony, Dustin Merrick had worked for Brown for “three or four” years and was unhappy with his work hours, wanting them changed in order to spend time with his girlfriend and her child.

Dustin Merrick stopped working for Brown in early October, but had seen him at least one time before Brown was killed, which was to deliver a bill for $400 for hours worked.

After working for Brown, Dustin Merrick worked at a Xenia smoke shop, according to Edwards’ testimony.

During Edwards’ testimony, she also revealed that Dustin Merrick owned three guns: a .22-caliber rifle, a 9mm handgun and a shotgun.

A shotgun shell was recovered at the scene by authorities, according to Edwards.

Brent Riley, BCI special agent in Cyber crimes, testified a Kyocera phone was found in the bedroom of Brown.

After examining the call log, a call from the phone around 3:11 a.m. was attempted, though the dialer could only dial the numbers “9” and “1.”

RELATED: Greene County Sheriff continuing investigation in to double homicide

At the conclusion of the testimony, defense attorney Tom Collins argued that the evidence presented could not place his client directly at the scene and that he should be released.

“They may have evidence that puts his gun there, they may have evidence that puts his DNA there, but we’ve heard zero people that puts Dustin there and pulled the trigger,” Collins argued.

Judge Murry did not agree. Now, the prosecution team must present the case to a grand jury to seek indictment in common pleas court.

“By rule, we have 60 days to do that. I doubt it will take 60 days — we are waiting for some more forensic test results from BCI. Hopefully we will get those soon and get this scheduled for the grand jury,” said Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller.

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