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Disgraced metro Atlanta attorney to stand trial in mother's brutal stabbing death

Richard Merritt made headlines after he skipped out on a Cobb County jail sentence that escalated into a murder investigation for his mother.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Editor's note: The video above is from initial reporting on the case.

The disgraced metro Atlanta attorney who is accused of brutally stabbing his mother in 2019 and then bolting, taking on a new persona and life while being on the run for nearly eight months will finally stand trial for her death next week.

Jury selection will begin in Richard Merritt's murder trial next week. 

He first made headlines during a nationwide manhunt after he skipped out on a Cobb County jail sentence that escalated into a murder investigation for his mother, 77-year-old Shirley Merritt.

RELATED: Manhunt underway for metro Atlanta attorney accused of stabbing mom to death

In January 2019, Merritt had originally pleaded guilty to theft, forgery and elder exploitation charges related to deceptive actions he made against 17 of his former clients. Prosecutors said he settled malpractice suits without telling his clients and then would pocket the money for himself.

After he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the judge gave him time to get his affairs in order before he had to report to the Cobb County Jail on Feb. 1, 2019. Instead of turning himself in, authorities said he cut off his ankle monitor, stabbed his mother to death, and took off in her SUV. Police found Shirley Merritt dead on Feb. 2, 2019, in her DeKalb County home.

Credit: NBC NEWS

Merritt managed to evade investigators for nearly eight months, taking on a new persona, working a new job and living a double life just a state over. He was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Nashville, Tennessee, on Sept. 30, 2019.

RELATED: Attorney on the run for 7 months in mom's brutal death arrested in Nashville 

Now 49 years old, Merritt is accused of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.

The trial is expected to last a week. If convicted, Merritt's sentence would be on top of his original 15-year sentence on his original theft and forgery charges.


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