The trial of a former waste management worker accused of killing someone who was sleeping near a dumpster resumed on Wednesday.
Waylan Bryan Merritt, 48, of Paris, is charged with causing a fatal accident. He was sentenced to five years probation and no fines on Wednesday night.
Merritt was arrested in October 2020 after colliding with Jesse Justiss, 36. Merritt works for the garbage management firm that serves the 310 W. Ferguson Road strip mall.
The state and defense teams questioned witnesses on Tuesday. Police, investigators, retail and operations managers, and medical examiners were among those involved in the case. The state claims Merritt knew he ran over Justiss but continued on his trash route without informing authorities. The defense claimed Merritt saw a dead corpse but did not run over it.
The Mount Pleasant cop who was summoned on Tuesday returned to the stand on Wednesday to be questioned by the state. Merritt told the officer that he didn’t spot Justiss’ body until he backed up. Merritt, according to the officer, never explained why he didn’t notify any official figure about the body.
The officer was subsequently questioned by the defense, who revealed images of him standing on a cardboard box that Justiss allegedly slept on at the crime site, which was considered evidence.
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The defense then claimed that tire marks were discovered beneath Justiss’ body, which the officer agreed should not have happened given the nature of the incident. The officer also acknowledged that he was using a body camera during the event, albeit no film exists from his initial meeting with Merritt.
The officer was then questioned by the defense about why he informed Merritt he was not in trouble despite the fact that he had been recognized as the key suspect. Merritt, according to the officer, was not in difficulty at the time. The defense then pointed out that the officer never directly asked Merritt if he had run over Justiss, and Merritt never admitted to doing so.
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