Homicide

After months of silence, prosecutors to make case in death of family of 4 buried in desert

  • FILE - In this May 22, 2015 file photo, Charles "Chase" Merritt, left, speaks to his attorney Jimmy Mettias during a hearing in San Bernardino Justice Center court in San Bernardino, Calif. Merritt, has a scheduled preliminary hearing Monday, June 15, 2015, on charges that he murdered his business partner, the man’s wife and their two young sons. Prosecutors will contend that a Southern California man used a sledgehammer to kill the family of four before burying their bodies in shallow desert graves in 2013, but the defense will argue there isn’t a shred of physical evidence tying him to the crime, a defense attorney said. (Will Lester/The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via AP, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this May 22, 2015 file photo, Charles "Chase" Merritt, left, speaks to his attorney Jimmy Mettias during a hearing in San Bernardino Justice Center court in San Bernardino, Calif. Merritt, has a scheduled preliminary hearing Monday, June 15, 2015, on charges that he murdered his business partner, the man’s wife and their two young sons. Prosecutors will contend that a Southern California man used a sledgehammer to kill the family of four before burying their bodies in shallow desert graves in 2013, but the defense will argue there isn’t a shred of physical evidence tying him to the crime, a defense attorney said. (Will Lester/The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via AP, Pool, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chase Merritt, center, speaks with his attorneys Jim Terrell, right, and Jimmy Mettias, left, before his preliminary hearing Monday, June, 15, 2015 in San Bernadino, Calif. Merritt is accused of killing four members of the McStay family in February 2010. A judge will decide whether Charles "Chase" Merritt, 58, must stand trial for the deaths of his business partner, Joseph McStay, the man's wife and their two young sons. (John Gibbins/U-T San Diego via AP, Pool)

    Chase Merritt, center, speaks with his attorneys Jim Terrell, right, and Jimmy Mettias, left, before his preliminary hearing Monday, June, 15, 2015 in San Bernadino, Calif. Merritt is accused of killing four members of the McStay family in February 2010. A judge will decide whether Charles "Chase" Merritt, 58, must stand trial for the deaths of his business partner, Joseph McStay, the man's wife and their two young sons. (John Gibbins/U-T San Diego via AP, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Charles Merritt, left, sits in Department S-1 of the San Bernardino Justice Center, with defense attorneys Sharon Brunner and Jim Terrell before the start of his preliminary hearing on Monday, June 15, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif. Merritt is accused of killing four members of the McStay family in February 2010. A judge will decide whether Charles "Chase" Merritt, 58, must stand trial for the deaths of his business partner, Joseph McStay, the man's wife and their two young sons. (Kurt Miller/The Press-Enterprise via AP, Pool)

    Charles Merritt, left, sits in Department S-1 of the San Bernardino Justice Center, with defense attorneys Sharon Brunner and Jim Terrell before the start of his preliminary hearing on Monday, June 15, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif. Merritt is accused of killing four members of the McStay family in February 2010. A judge will decide whether Charles "Chase" Merritt, 58, must stand trial for the deaths of his business partner, Joseph McStay, the man's wife and their two young sons. (Kurt Miller/The Press-Enterprise via AP, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Authorities have kept quiet for months about what drove them to charge a California man with killing a family of four and burying their bodies in shallow desert graves.

San Bernardino prosecutors on Monday are expected to finally reveal their case against 58-year-old Charles "Chase" Merritt for the murders of his business partner, Joseph McStay, the man's wife and their two young sons.

The McStay family vanished in 2010. In 2013, the family's remains were found 100 miles from their Fallbrook home.

Merritt has pleaded not guilty. After a preliminary hearing, a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

Merritt's lawyer, Jimmy Mettias, says he expects prosecutors will allege his client killed the family with a sledgehammer after a business dispute. Prosecutors declined to comment.