Carson Merrill and Paul Miller, Flagler’s Two Shootists, Heading to Court Wednesday
FlaglerLive | July 6, 2012
July 9 Update: The William Carson Merrill hearing originally scheduled for Wednesday has been continued to Sept. 4 at 1:30 p.m.
They shared a cell at the Flagler County jail for two and a half months–not by choice, so much as by necessity: the county jail, being overcrowded, had few options but to keep William Carson Merrill, who goes by Carson, and Paul Miller, in the same quarters until Miller posted $300,000 bail at the end of May.
On Wednesday (July 11) they might see each other again in Flagler County Circuit Court as both go before Judge Raul Zambrano for pre-trial hearings. They had initially been scheduled for hearings three months ago. The hearings were continued until next week.
Merrill on Feb. 21 shot and killed his wife, Stefanie Merrill, with an AK-47 as he was playing with the weapon and pointing it at Stefanie, thinking the weapon was not loaded. The couple was in their Covington lane home in Palm Coast, in the bathroom, where their 3-year-old daughter was having a bath. Carson pulled the trigger as he was training the weapon’s laser pointer at his wife’s chest. She died shortly after, as Carson was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.
Merrill is charged with manslaughter and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. Some 20 firearms were recovered at his home by Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies. The AK-47 had been stored in the bathroom where the shooting took place. Merill, who marked his 33rd birthday in jail on March 22, had been jailed twice before in Flagler County, on a battery charge, after he’d assaulted his wife and head-butted her during an argument over money in 2006. The following year, he was convicted of grand theft for styealing materials from his employer and reselling them out of his home. He told cops that he had two firearms in 2007, and was charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, but that charge was dropped.
The felony record dates back to Merrill’s days in Tennessee, where he’d been arrested in 1999 on drunk driving, marijuana possession and marijuana sale charges. He was convicted of felony drug possession. He was subsequently arrested on lesser charges. He’s been at the Flagler County jail on $200,000 bond since his incarceration on Feb. 23.
Paul Miller joined him in jail on March 15, a day after Miller, 65, had shot and killed his neighbor, Dana Mulhall, during a verbal argument about Miller’s barking dogs. Miller and Mulhall were arguing across the fence that separates their South Flagler Avenue home. Miller had gone into his house and gone back out with a gun after Mulhall had gone back into his home. Miller waited, and eventually Mulhall came back out, and the two resumed their argument. Then, according to Miller’s description to authorities in Flagler Beach and to a 911 dispatcher, when Miller thought Mulhall was reaching for a gun, Miller shot him five times, four of those times as Mulhall was running, then apparently crawling, away toward his home. Mulhall was unarmed.
Miller’s arrest report, filed by the Flagler Beach Police Department, openly casts doubt on claims that Miller was acting in self-defense.
Miller faces a second degree murder charge. He was originally held without bond. At an April 12 bond hearing, his family and his attorneys argued that he deserved a reasonable bond. Zambrano set it at $300,000, an amount Miller’s family had claimed would be difficult to meet. The family was eventually able to cobble together the $30,000 in cash necessary, and the rest in collateral, to bond Miller out on May 30.
At the bond hearing, Melissa Moore Stens, one of Miller’s attorneys, suggested to the judge that the stand your ground law may be invoked in his defense.