Leslie Merritt Jr. says it never occurred to him he was in serious trouble the day he was arrested as a suspect in a string of freeway sniper shootings in Arizona.
Merritt, who served seven months behind bars before eventually being released and having the charges dismissed, has maintained his innocence from day one. In fact, he says he never even thought about calling a lawyer.
“I didn’t think I needed one because, once again, I’m innocent. I didn’t do this. So I figured, I’ll answer their questions and I’m going home,” Merritt tells Dr. Phil in an exclusive new interview airing Thursday.WATCH: Accused Arizona Freeway Sniper Recalls The Day He Was Arrested While He Says He Was Buying Diapers For His Daughter
Before being taken to jail, Merritt claims he was interrogated for over an hour, as he says police claimed they had matched his gun to bullets pulled from some of the vehicles that were shot, and that they allegedly had video evidence that they claimed showed him on the freeway at the time of the shootings. Still, Merritt admits he may not have comprehended the gravity of the situation.
“But if somebody is there saying we have video of you on I-10 shooting at cars. We have ballistic tested your gun. Ten cops jump on you coming out of Wal-Mart and take automatic rifles and point them at you, your fiancée and your 5-month-old daughter in a shopping cart and drag your ass to jail and say they know you did this – it never occurred to you to say, ‘You know, I might need reinforcements down here?’” Dr. Phil asks him. WATCH: Once Accused Arizona Freeway Sniper Describes His 222 Days Behind Bars: It Was ‘Mental Tortur
“I was like, you know, I got this,” Merritt says. “I know I didn’t do it. I know there’s no way it matches, I know they’re wrong. There’s no way they have a video of me because I didn’t do this.”
“At what point did you decide, ‘Maybe I need a lawyer’?” Dr. Phil asks.
“When I was sitting in jail,” Merritt admits.
Tune in to Thursday's Dr. Phil
, for more of his exclusive interview with Leslie Merritt Jr.