Accused Thanksgiving killer in court - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Accused Thanksgiving killer in court



WEST PALM BEACH-The man accused of murdering four family members on Thanksgiving in Jupiter, was in court Friday--  the first time since right after his arrest.
A contingent of deputies escorted Paul Michael Merhige into the courtroom.  Merhige is charged with killing his two sisters, an aunt, and his cousin's six-year old daughter, Makayla Sitton, as she slept in her bed.  
Friday's hearing was set to hear a motion by Merhige's lawyer, Public Defender Carey Haughwout.  She originally asked for a gag order for all parties and witnesses in the case, and the sealing of all records until trial.
It was an unusual request, and one that had a very high legal burden, according to local attorneys.
But under a deal worked out just before the hearing, and approved by Judge John Hoy, when prosecutors hand over evidence in the case, the Public Defender will have 10 days to review it.  Should parties disagree on which records should remain sealed, the judge will decide.
Attorney Robert Rivas represented CBS 12 at the hearing.  "They have a very limited withholding of documents for a very short period of time," explained Rivas.  "It's just something that was sensible to everybody."
The half brother of the six-year old murder victim attended the hearing.
Paul Merhige's father was also on hand.  He declined comment.
The 10-day review of documents is in effect until the end of May.  The judge set a status check in the case on April 1.

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