Robert Merritt

Robert Merritt

NORTH PORT — A North Port man, already facing felony charges of beating his father in February, is now charged with second-degree murder.

His father has died of the injuries, police said.

Robert Don Merritt, 44, of the 6600 block of Myrtlewood Road, is now charged with second-degree murder for the death of his 74-year-old father, police announced Friday.

The first incident occurred Feb. 1, according to court documents.

The father, Robert Cecil Merritt, told investigators his son threw him into the television at their home, choked him and slammed his face on the floor.

The following day, when he asked his son to take him to the hospital to seek treatment for his injuries, his son refused. The father called 911 and EMS transported him to the hospital, according to the affidavit.

The father initially lied to medical staff about how he sustained his injuries, because he did not want his four grandchildren to be taken away from his son, the affidavit states.

Robert Cecil Merritt was back in the hospital Feb. 6. Describing a second incident, the father told police his son punched him in the chest, grabbed him by his shirt and threw him to the ground. His son picked him up off the floor by his shirt front, causing him to stumble backwards, hitting a table and falling back on the floor, the affidavit states.

During that examination, he told medical staff that his chest hurt, and the bruises on him were from when his son put his hands on him four days prior.

He told the case manager in the emergency room that he did not feel safe at home with his son, and his grandchildren also lived in the home.

According to the affidavit, the case manager was concerned the second attack aggravated the man’s initial injuries. The case manager arranged for the elder Robert to be placed in a rehabilitation clinic, since he did not feel safe at home, the affidavit stated.

Police arrested Robert Don Merritt on April 8 on charges of battery on a person 65 or older, and later released on $2,500 bond.

The victim died March 10.

“After a thorough investigation and the conclusion of the autopsy results, the father’s cause of death was ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner’s Office,” North Port Police spokesperson Joshua Taylor said in a statement Friday. “Those charges have now been upgraded by the State Attorney’s Office. Merritt is now facing the charge of second-degree murder. He was picked up and arrested Thursday in North Port.”

Robert Don Merritt remained in the Sarasota County Jail without bond Friday.

Email: brianna.kwasnik@yoursun.com

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