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Fugitive Disbarred Attorney Captured After 8 Months

Richard Merritt is accused of killing his own mother
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2019 2:28 AM CDT
Richard Merritt.   (Cobb County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – A disbarred attorney from Georgia who allegedly killed his mother and went on the run instead of surrendering to serve a prison sentence has been recaptured after eight months as a fugitive. Authorities say Richard Merritt was arrested by the US Marshals Service in a thrift store in Nashville on Monday, CNN reports. Merritt pleaded guilty in January to theft, forgery, and elder-exploitation charges involving 17 of his clients, 11 Alive reports. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to report to the Cobb County Jail on Feb. 1. Instead, authorities say, he cut off his ankle monitor. The body of Merritt's mother, Shirley Merritt, was found in her home on Feb. 2. Merritt had been living with her while out on bond.

Police believe Merritt stabbed his mother to death and stole her vehicle. Before he was sentenced, investigators said Merritt, who surrendered his license to practice law in early 2018, settled lawsuits without his clients' knowledge and spent the money to go on vacations and buy a Porsche. In addition to the 15 years in prison, he was sentenced to 15 years of probation and ordered to pay $454,706 in restitution, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. His brother, Robert, says their mother was close to Richard and was always very supportive. He says it was a mistake for the judge to give his brother time to get his affairs in order before going to prison. "I think there was always a concern that he might flee given the nature of the crimes he had committed, but no one ever saw this coming," he says. (Read more fugitive stories.)

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