SHREVEPORT, La. – A federal jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday, July 14th against Dillon James Merritt, 54, of Many, Louisiana, charging him with kidnapping, interstate domestic violence and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced. United States District Judge Donald E. Walter presided over the trial.
Evidence introduced at trial this week revealed that on December 12, 2017, Merritt kidnapped a woman in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and took her across state lines to Texas and held her against her will from December 12, 2017 through December 16, 2017. Testimony at trial showed that Merritt and the woman (victim) briefly dated in the fall of 2017, but after Merritt punched the victim in the stomach following an argument, the victim severed the relationship with Merritt. Following the breakup, he continually called the victim and harassed her.
During the evening hours of December 12, 2017, 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 and put her in a truck and left. The victim was bound and gagged and hidden under clothing in the vehicle and for the next several days, was taken by Merritt to various locations in Louisiana and remote locations in Texas near Toledo Bend. Merritt repeatedly raped the victim, doused her with lighter fluid and tried to set her on fire, and severely beat her with his fists, elbows, feet and with a Maglite flashlight over this four-day period causing serious bodily injury to the victim. In addition to the brutal beatings, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual abuse on the victim committed by Merritt, he possessed with the intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine.
“The severe brutality and sexual abuse inflicted by this defendant on the victim was pure evil,” stated 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, a maximum of 40 years for the drug charge, and up to a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for November 11, 2021 at 11:00.
The FBI 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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