03:22 - Source: HLN
Jury reaches verdict for McStay family killing
CNN —  

The man convicted of killing a California family of four and burying them in the Mojave Desert nearly 10 years ago has been sentenced to death, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith announced in court on Tuesday.

Charles Ray Merritt, 62, was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder in June in the deaths of Joseph and Summer McStay and their children, Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3.

Jurors recommended life in prison for Merritt with no parole for the murder of Joseph Mc Stay, but they delivered three death penalty recommendations for the murders of his wife and their two children.

The family went missing in February 2010. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave in the Mojave Desert in 2013, about 100 miles north of their San Diego home. They had died of blunt force trauma, according to police.

The family went missing in 2010. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave in the Mojave Desert in 2013, about 100 miles north of their San Diego home. They had died of blunt force trauma, according to police.

Merritt, a business associate of Joseph’s, was arrested in 2014. Prosecutors say Merritt owed McStay more than $42,000.

The family’s disappearance long puzzled investigators, who said there were no signs of struggle at their Fallbrook home. Food had been left out and the dogs were home.