PHOENIX - Leslie Merritt Jr., charged in four of the cases connected to a series of I-10 shootings last summer, was released from jail after his bond was reduced to $0 in a Tuesday court hearing. It is a stark contrast to the first days of his arrest when his bond was set at $1 million.
Judge Warren Granville granted the motion to modify his release, putting the Glendale-area landscaper on electronic monitoring.
The suspected I-10 shooter has been in jail since Sept. 18. Now he is free, sort of -- an electronic anklet will track his every move.
Merritt left jail at about 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“I told you guys when I first got arrested, I didn’t do it," he said after his release. "I’m telling you now, I’m going home. I didn’t do it.”
He was originally scheduled to appear in court April 26, and a reason for Tuesday's surprise hearing was not known ahead of time.
The I-10 shootings partially paralyzed the Valley for weeks last summer. DPS eventually arrested Merritt and Gov. Ducey sent out a tweet when he was arrested: "We got him." DPS Director Milstead called him a domestic terrorist.
Merritt has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, even though investigators say they found the weapon used in four the shootings at a local pawn shop through ballistic testing and tied it back to its registered owner, Merritt.
Now an independent ballistics expert has brought into question whether the bullets and fragments found at the scenes match Merritt's gun.
"Right now I just want to go home and be with my kids," Merritt said as he left jail.
Merritt's attorney was protective. "The guy's been in a box for 7 months -- 23 hours a day. Let him go home and hug his family," he said.
There have been no other suspects identified by law enforcement in the remaining seven freeway shooting incidents.
Merritt's next court date will be a status conference on May 18.