DURANGO -- Timothy Merritt, age 57, of Utah was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Blackburn on April 9, 2018, to 24 years in prison for the crimes of Murder in the Second Degree in Indian Country and Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury in Indian Country. Merritt was convicted after a jury trial in Durango on September 12, 2017. His sentence also includes 5 years of supervised release, with the special conditions of participating in a cognitive behavioral treatment program and a substance abuse program.
According to evidence presented at trial, Merritt caused a fatal car crash on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation while driving in the wrong lane of traffic with a blood alcohol content between 0.23 and 0.25. The crash caused the death of one man and serious injuries to his wife. Merritt had been arrested for drinking and driving offenses on three occasions prior to the fatal crash. Three months after the fatal crash, Merritt was again arrested driving drunk, narrowly avoiding causing another crash.
“I hope with all my heart that this conviction and sentence brings some relief to the deep suffering Merritt caused his victims and their family,” said United States Attorney Bob Troyer. “Our prosecutors and the BIA and FBI agents worked tirelessly on this case, for that sole purpose.”
“This sentence reflects the ongoing efforts of the BIA and FBI to aggressively investigate violent crime on Native American reservations and seek justice for the victims,” said Calvin Shivers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Denver Division.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Julia Martinez, Jeffrey Graves, and former Assistant United States Attorney Dondi Osborne.
The case is captioned United States v. Merritt, Case No. 16-cr-365-REB.