JUPITER (CBSMiami) – 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.
Two years 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.
After a five-week manhunt, he was finally captured on January 2nd, 2010 on Long Key.
In October 2011, a bombshell dropped on the Sitton family. Merhige pleaded guilty to killing his aunt Raymonde Joseph, 76, twin sisters Lisa Knight and Carla Merhige, and his cousin’s daughter, Makayla Sitton, 6.
In return for his plea, he was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences and is currently in a state corrections facility in Miami-Dade where he’s undergoing intensive medical and psychological testing.
Merhige will remain at the Doral facility until he’s assigned to a prison.
The Sittons wanted Merhige to face a jury and were not happy with the decision to allow him to make a plea deal.
While the Sittons were upset about the plea deal, they do have a reason to celebrate.
The Sittons are expecting another child. Muriel, 50, is six months pregnant with a girl.
They say the baby will move into Makayla’s room sharing her toys and clothes and bringing happiness to her thrilled parents. But it’s still bittersweet as the Sittons will never forget the little girl they’ll never hold again.