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Merriman Convicted of 1st-Degree Murder

Trial: The skinhead gang member could face the death penalty because of a finding that he raped Katrina Montgomery before killing her.

February 14, 2001|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"For eight long years we have prayed for some kind of closure regarding the murder of our daughter," the couple wrote. "That the truth should finally be known and the man responsible for her death should finally be held accountable is only right."

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Correspondent Jenifer Ragland contributed to this story.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Key Dates in Montgomery Murder Case

Nov. 28, 1992--Katrina Montgomery leaves a party in Oxnard about 5 a.m. Later the same day, her blue Toyota pickup truck is found abandoned in the Angeles National Forest with blood in the bed. The Los Angeles Police Department launches an investigation.

July 1997--The Ventura County district attorney's office, which took over the case in 1995, begins to pursue it full time. A grand jury is convened in November to investigate.

Nov. 21, 1997--Authorities arrest San Fernando Valley gang members Ryan Bush and Larry Nicassio on suspicion of murder. Bush is later charged with a drug offense, and Nicassio is charged with murder in Montgomery's death.

Jan. 31, 1998--Justin Merriman runs from deputies during a traffic stop on Ventura Avenue and barricades himself inside a nearby home. After a police standoff, he is arrested and charged with resisting arrest, vandalism and other counts.

March 30, 1998--Nicassio agrees to cooperate with investigators. He signs a plea agreement and leads them to a site near Sylmar where, he said, he and Bush had buried Montgomery's body after Merriman killed her. Authorities are unable to locate her remains. Nicassio agrees to wear a wire to obtain statements from Merriman in jail.

December 1998--Prosecutors convene a second grand jury.

Jan. 6, 1999--Merriman is indicted on murder charges in Montgomery's slaying. He is also indicted on rape charges for allegedly assaulting two women in the mid-1990s and a charge of evading arrest in the 1998 standoff. In May, he is indicted a second time for allegedly conspiring to intimidate witnesses.

Jan. 4, 2001--Opening statements launch Merriman's trial in Ventura County Superior Court.

Feb. 13, 2001--Jurors find Merriman guilty of first-degree murder with additional findings that make a death sentence possible.

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