Circuit Attorney News & Updates

Woman sentenced for crimes against elderly couple
February 02, 2015

She preyed on an elderly couple by capitalizing on their good will to gain entry into their home. Then, she and another man, armed with a knife, terrorized the couple and stole precious heirlooms.


Now, Sandra Merritt has been sentenced to life in prison for her actions.


In the early morning hours of September 24, 2013, E.M. and D.M., a couple in their 80s, heard a knock on their door.


Merritt knew the couple and called out to them. E.M. opened the door and Merritt asked to use the bathroom. But Merritt wasn’t alone. A man with a hoodie covering his face, also entered the home. The man grabbed E.M., taking him to the ground and wrestling with him.


Meanwhile, Merritt removed the phone off the hook, then bound the elderly woman and stuffed tissues in her mouth.


She then ransacked the home, taking money, credit cards, a cell phone and sentimental jewelry, including the rings off the woman’s hands.


Merritt and the man even stole the keys to the house.


Later that day, Merritt pawned some of the jewelry. Then, she discussed a plan with her boyfriend to convince E.M. not to prosecute.


For all of these actions, Merritt was charged with first-degree robbery, armed criminal action, first-degree burglary, two counts of kidnapping and tampering with a victim.


She pleaded guilty to these counts in December of 2014. She had been convicted of similar acts in the past.


“The defendant is a predator that preys on the trust of others, particularly elderly people,” wrote Assistant Circuit Attorney Kristyn Skelly in court documents. “Her criminal history indicates a pattern of robbing elderly people and when she was granted parole, she reverted to the same criminal activity.”


The events of that morning were extremely traumatic for the elderly couple. E.M. fought as hard as he could to protect himself and his wife and yet he could only watch as Merritt bound and gagged his wife. The couple is now fearful for their safety. Merritt stole D.M.’s wedding rings and heirlooms that, to this day, have never been recovered.”


For these and other reasons, ACA Skelly recommended that Merritt serve a life sentence for the robbery, plus 15 years.


A judge sentenced Merritt to serve life in prison. Under Missouri law, a life sentence equals 30 years. She will be required to serve 85% of that time. 

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