Man gets 95 years for killing his father, a former Missoula Rural Fire chief

A Missoula man will spend 95 years in prison for fatally shooting his father, a former Missoula fire chief, 21 times at their home in 2021.

Colton R. Merritt, 24, entered an Alford plea to a deliberate homicide charge in May stemming from accusations he killed his father, Daniel C. Merritt, 58. Colton sat quietly while Missoula County District Court Judge Robert Deschamps handed him the sentence on Friday afternoon.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to gain a conviction.

Colton Merritt, center, appears at the Missoula County Courthouse on July 14 to be sentenced for the shooting and killing of his father, Daniel Merritt, 58, a former fire chief. Members of the Merritt family also appeared in court to give statements.


Daniel Merritt died on Jan. 3, 2021 in his Missoula home. Court documents state that on Jan. 4, 2021, Colton called 911 and told dispatchers he shot his father in self-defense. Daniel was a retired Missoula Rural Fire Battalion Chief.

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