Merrill likely to enter plea



Former Central Michigan University professor William Lord Merrill is expected to enter into a plea bargain following charges of child pornography in federal court.

Merrill, 58, was arrested for one count of possession of child pornography and indicted by a grand jury on two counts of receipt of child pornography on Dec. 19. A pretrial conference took place Jan. 24 by telephone.

A final pretrial conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. March 25 before District Judge Thomas Ludington. If a plea bargain is not made before March 21, a jury trial is scheduled April 9 at  8:30 a.m.

Court-appointed Defense Attorney Daniel O’Neil said if the case is settled before trial, Merrill will likely enter a plea.

“It might happen,” O’Neil said. “Ninety-nine percent of cases are resolved prior to trial.”

O’Neil said Merrill is reviewing the evidence against him.

CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley said it is unlikely Merrill will go to trial due to the amount of evidence against him.

“In my opinion, it is a very overwhelming case against the individual," Yeagley said. "However, some folks believe they deserve to have their day in court. Time will tell, and I have faith in the system.”

As previously reported by Central Michigan Life, Merrill was charged Nov. 8 with a four-count felony, including: one count of possession of sexually abusive material, one count of distributing or promoting child sexually abusive activity and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime, according to court records.

He was also charged with possessing a switch blade, a misdemeanor.

The investigation began when CMU’s information technology staff noticed a large amount of data being transmitted from a single computer on the network.

After tracking the source of transmission, IT disconnected Merrill’s computer from the Internet in hopes that the user would contact IT for support, according to an affidavit. After further inspection of his computer, an IT worker discovered images and videos of child pornography.

Merrill was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Isabella County Trial Court on a four-count felony relating to child porn, but federal prosecutors served a warrant for his arrest. He was sent to Bay City.

Merrill resigned from CMU Nov. 5 after being confronted about three child porn videos found on his school computer and being suspended by university officials.


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