Statement Analysis®

Is Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. the Phoenix freeway shooter?

Since August 29, 2015, there have been 11 confirmed shootings of vehicles in the Phoenix, AZ area. Most of the shootings occurred along Interstate 10 which is a major route through the city. On September 18, 2015, 21-year-old Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested and charged with the first four shootings. In his first appearance in court, Merrit told the judge,

"All I have to say is I'm the wrong guy. I tried to tell the detectives that. My gun's been in the pawn shop for the last two months. I haven't even had access to a weapon."

The only good denial is when a person denies the act. This is usually done by saying, "I didn't do it" or by mentioning the act, "I didn't hit her." All Merrit says is that he is the wrong guy. He does not state that he is not the shooter. He does not state that he did not shoot at any cars.

Merrit starts out saying, "All I have to say." Why is it that is all he has to say? I believe the judge admonished him that anything he said could be used against him. That may be why he chose to keep his comments short. It could also be that he does not want to lie. Saying, "I'm not the shooter" would be a direct lie. Therefore, he softens it up by saying, "I'm the wrong guy."

The word "even" shows a contrast of ideas. He may have used this word because he is comparing not having access to a weapon with the authorities belief that he did have access to a weapon. It may also be he used the word "even" because in his mind he is comparing his lie that he did not have access to a weapon with the truth that he did possess a weapon.

Lastly, we see he had a change in language from "gun" to "weapon." There are no synonyms in Statement Analysis. The word "gun" and the word "weapon" do not mean the exact same thing. Truthful people will usually use the same language. There is a reason why Merrit changed his language. If there is no justification for the change then it is an indication of deception. As I look at this very short statement I do not see a justification for the change in language. According to Merrit's own words he has not told us that he did not have access to a "gun." He stated that he did not have access to a "weapon."

It turned out that Merrit did pawn a gun but it was after the shootings. The police obtained the gun from the pawn shop, test fired it and matched it to bullet fragments from the first four freeway shootings.

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