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Jury finds Merritt guilty in murder case

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Shay Alexander Merritt, a former U.S. Soldier who did multiple tours overseas was found guilty on all counts. Merritt was on trial for the 2011 murder of his wife Rita Ann Merritt. Jurors in the case deliberated just over two hours before reaching a guilty verdict earlier today

Merritt was found guilty on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony crime and first degree cruelty to children.

Rita Ann Merritt, who was 27 at the time of her death was shot in the head with an assault rifle just before midnight on September 17, 2011. The shooting incident was witnessed by the couple's three-year-old child.

Sentencing is scheduled for two weeks from today. According to Georgia law, murder sentences carry a mandatory life sentence, however; Judge Michael Murphy will make a decision on whether to add the possibility of parole.

Jurors heard testimony this week from forensic experts, agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as well as a videotaped recording of the daughter that witnessed the shooting.

At the time of the murder, Merritt stated that his wife was bipolar and grabbed the gun to kill herself. Merritt also stated that he had also grabbed the gun in an effort to stop her from killing herself when the gun accidentally discharged.

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