Merritt convicted of kidnapping, interstate domestic violence

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Dillon James Merritt, 2019 booking photo

On Wednesday, July 14, a federal jury returned a guilty verdict against Dillon James Merritt, 54, of Many on charges of kidnapping, interstate domestic violence, and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. 

Over the course of the trial, evidence was introduced to reveal that on December 12, 2017, Merritt kidnapped a female in Natchitoches and took her across state lines to Texas where he held her against her will until December 16, 2017.

Testimony shows that Merritt and the victim briefly dated in the fall of 2017, but after Merritt punched the victim in the stomach following an argument, the victim ended the relationship.  Following the breakup, he continually called and harassed the victim.

On the night the crime took place, Merritt found the victim walking back home from visiting with a friend near the Walmart parking lot in Natchitoches and struck her in the head before placing her in a truck and leaving.  Afterward, the victim was bound, gagged, and hidden under clothing in the truck for several days.  Merritt transported the victim to various locations in Louisiana and remote locations in Texas around the Toledo Bend area.  Merritt repeatedly raped the victim, doused her with lighter fluid, and tried to set her on fire.  It was noted that he severely beat her with his fists, elbows, feet, and with a Maglite flashlight over this four-day period, which caused serious bodily injury to the victim.  In addition to the multiple other charges, Merritt was charged with possession with the intent to distribute five or more grams of methamphetamine.

“The severe brutality and sexual abuse inflicted by this defendant on the victim was pure evil,” said Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook.  “No one deserves to be treated in this manner and justice has prevailed today.”

Merritt faces up to life in prison for the kidnapping charge, life for the interstate domestic violence charges, up to 40 years for the drug charge, and up to a $250,000 fine.  Sentencing is set for November 11 at 11 a.m.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Sabine County Sheriff’s Office in Hemphill, Texas, conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cadesby B. Cooper prosecuted the case.

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