Trial date set for man suspected of shooting father in Missoula

Zoe Buchli

A trial date was set this week for a Missoula man accused of shooting his father, a former Missoula rural fire chief, in January 2021.

Colton R. Merritt, 24, pleaded not guilty in January 2021 to one count of deliberate homicide. On Tuesday, his trial date was scheduled for Feb. 15, 2023.

Colton called 911 on Jan. 4, 2021 and told dispatchers he shot his father, 58-year-old Daniel C. Merritt, in self-defense, court documents allege. Daniel was a retired Missoula Rural Fire Battalion Chief.

The shooting happened at Colton’s house on the 4700 block of Bailey Street, court documents state. As his father entered the room, Colton shot him with a .22 bolt-action rifle, he told dispatchers.

He told investigators he thought his father was armed, but did not see his father with a gun. After shooting his father, Colton said it looked like Daniel Merritt was still alive and he shot him again to put him “out of his misery,” according to charging documents.

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