JUPITER (CBS4) – Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday where families get together and celebrate the good times but for a South Florida family, it’s a day of sorrow and pain.
One year ago on Thanksgiving, Paul Michael Merhige shattered the lives of his family, when he opened fire at his cousin’s Thanksgiving dinner in Jupiter and killed four family members including a 6-year-old girl.
Merhige was at the home of Jim and Muriel Sitton enjoying a Thanksgiving feast. As the dinner was winding down, police say he got a gun from his car and opened fire on his relatives inside the house.
Those who didn’t survive the massacre included Merhige’s sisters, twins Lisa Knight and Carla Merhige; their aunt, Raymonde Joseph, 76, and their cousin’s daughter, Makayla Sitton, 6. Lisa Knight was also pregnant.
Knight’s husband, Patrick, was also shot in the stomach and spent three months in a medically induced coma. He wasn’t expected to survive. After coming out of the coma, he had to relearn basic skills and since then, has made what he calls an amazing recovery. He has returned to work as a lawyer and has even argued trials. He is also a motivational speaker. He will eventually be the star witness at Merhige’s trial.
After the shooting, Merhige vanished. He fled to the Florida Keys where he reportedly planned to commit suicide. After a five-week manhunt, Merhige was finally taken into custody January 2nd, 2010 on Long Key when the Pfaff family, who own of the Edgewater Resort, saw his face on the local news and recognized him as one of their customers.
Palm Beach County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. His public defenders are expected to pursue an insanity defense. A year after the murders, a trial date has not been set.