A common-law husband and wife in Canada were found guilty on Saturday of the first-degree murder of the woman’s ex-husband.
As the Toronto Star reported, 37-year-old Melissa Merritt, a mother of six, and 40-year-old Christopher Fattore, killed Caleb Harrison in 2013.
The victim’s mother was also killed in an attack years earlier, a murder for which Fattore was convicted. Merritt was originally also charged in the 2010 death of 63-year-old Bridget Harrison, but that prosecution ended in a mistrial.
Bill Harrison, Bridget’s wife and Caleb’s father, was killed in 2009. Fattore was found not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with charges in that case. All three relatives were found dead inside their Mississauga home.
It was not until Caleb Harrison was killed that his parents’ deaths were ruled to have been homicides.
Both Merritt and Fattore pleaded not guilty to the murder charges stemming from his death.
Caleb Harrison and his former spouse had been engaged in a bitter dispute over child custody at the time of each of the homicides, according to court records.
During the trial, Fattore reportedly admitted killing Caleb Harrison after sneaking into his home with a baseball bat, though he claimed the act was not deliberate.
As CTV reported, a jury heard that the 40-year-old victim was beaten to death as he slept.
According to reports, Fattore had earlier confessed to police that he killed both Caleb and Bridget Harrison in a statement he later claimed was forced.
Merritt and Fattore reportedly face a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison without parole.
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