Judge overrules Merrill attempt to dismiss case

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Former Armstrong police chief Craig Merrill filed two motions in district court that came for hearing April 5. Merrill sought to have some of the charges against him dropped in connection with the case brought by the state of Iowa against several public officials, including Merrill, with arrests and trial information presented February 11, 2021. Merrill is charged in the lengthy trial information with some illegal acts while a public official in connection with other former Armstrong public officials as well as several in which he is charged as an individual.

Judge Nancy Whittenberg, in a 19-page ruling, denied Merrill’s request to dismiss five counts against him due to a statue of limitations violation, stating that the alleged infractions, including use of a taser, possession of checks for paid time off allegedly not earned, and acceptance of an all-expense-paid vacation would not have occurred had Merrill not had the connections to acquire those items and benefits through his work as Armstrong police chief. Merrill also asked that charges of ongoing criminal conduct be dropped due to insufficient evidence in the minutes of testimony, which provide evidence supporting the charges from the state Attorney General’s office. Judge Whittenberg’s order overruled all of Merrill’s motion.

A trial scheduling conference over Zoom is set for August 20 for the trials of Merrill, former Armstrong Mayor Greg Buum, and former city clerk Connie Thackery. Former city clerks Tracie Lang and Mary Kate Staton plead guilty to reduced charges within weeks of their February arrests. Sentencing for Lang and Staton is deferred pending the trial for the other three accused in the case.

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