Murder-accused 'didn't care' about woman's death

Murder accused Alexander James WIlliam Merritt at the Dunedin High Court. The jury is expected to begin deliberations tomorrow.
Murder accused Alexander James WIlliam Merritt at the Dunedin High Court. The jury is expected to begin deliberations tomorrow.

While being interviewed by police, a 21-year-old cleaner accused of murder stood by previous comments that he did not care the victim was dead.

Alexander James William Merritt was spoken to two days after Karin Ann Ross, 51, was found dead in the Spotless Cleaning Services carpark early in the early hours of December 2 last year.

Detective Graeme Smaill told the defendant a colleague had reported that on the day of Ross's death, Merritt had said he was not concerned by the incident.

"A woman's just lost her life and you don't care she's dead because she spoke to you rudely?" the officer asked.

"Yeah," Merritt said.

He also quizzed him about comments he allegedly made that Ross deserved to have her family burned in front of her.

"Sounds like something I'd say," Merritt said.

Det Smaill also pointed out scratches to the defendant's face and arms, which the suspect explained must have been self-inflicted in his sleep.

"You've got pretty short nails. How did you manage to scratch yourself in your sleep?" the officer said.

"I just woke up with scratches," the defendant said.

Merritt told him a similar incident had happened once in the past, when he awoke with scratches on his back.

"I just thought it was weird," he said.

The detective had also pointed out a bruise under Merritt's eye but defence lawyer Anne Stevens suggested that was simply shadowing.

The cross examination eventually saw the witness approach the dock to look closely at the defendant's face.

The officer told the court there was a shadow under the right eye today but not the yellow colouring he appeared to have at the time of questioning 10 months ago.

Det Smaill outlined his concerns about Merritt's version of events.

"We've got Karin Ross who's got all these injuries and we've got you the morning she was found . . . waking up with scratches on your forehead, left arm and on your right hand and you're saying it happened when you were asleep?"

Merritt stood by his explanation.

Crown and defence are expected to close their respective cases today before the judge summarises the case and the jury begins deliberations tomorrow.

- Otago Daily Times

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