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October 20, 2014

Anniston attorney charged with soliciting for murder while in jail on murder-for-hire charge

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Matthew Merrill

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:29 pm | Updated: 8:13 pm, Thu Jul 31, 2014.

An Anniston attorney charged in an alleged murder-for-hire plot faces an additional charge in which prosecutors say that while in jail, he asked  a fellow inmate to commit murder.

Matthew Merrill, 32, was arrested July 25 while already in custody on other charges. Merrill is charged with soliciting a fellow inmate in the Calhoun County Jail between May 5 and July 24 to kill Patrick Thomas McCarroll and Lindsey Ghee.

Merrill was indicted by a Calhoun County grand jury May 9, charged with soliciting another man, Gerald Anton Griffin, to kill McCarroll, court records show. Merrill’s involvement in the plot took place between Jan. 1, 2008, and April 1, 2014, according to his indictment.

Merrill was arrested May 5 by Anniston police on charges including possession of a controlled substance, illegal possession of prescription drugs and public drunkenness, according to a police arrest report. During that stop, police said, they found a notebook with details about his alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Court records show that previous conditions of Merrill’s release included having no contact with Patrick McCarroll, Lindsey Ghee or her immediate family. Ghee is a daughter of Anniston attorney and former state Sen. Doug Ghee.

“He’s been charged with some additional crimes,” said Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh, speaking by phone Thursday.

McVeigh said he could not comment on the details of the recent charge, but said that Merrill has been transferred from the Calhoun County Jail to the Etowah County Jail.

State prosecutes on July 25 asked the court to keep Merrill in jail with no bond, and in solitary confinement with no contact with other inmates, court records show. Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell on June 25 set Merrill’s bond at $1 million.

At a bond reduction hearing June 24 an Anniston police investigator told the court that more than one inmate informed police that Merrill had discussed the murder-for-hire plot with them, and had allegedly offered one inmate $50,000 to kill a man. Merrill also allegedly offered a separate inmate $20,000 to kill two men Merrill believed could testify to his drug use, police told the court at the June 24 hearing.

McVeigh said by phone Thursday that “we’re awaiting the mental evaluation” on Merrill.

Attempts to reach Merrill’s attorney, Bill Broome, weren’t immediately successful Thursday.

Merrill is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 14 for a preliminary hearing on his latest murder solicitation charge.

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