Brother Breaks Down, Testifies as McStay Family Murder Trial Reaches Third Day

The brother of a Fallbrook man who was reportedly killed alongside his wife and two young children broke down in court Wednesday testifying against the suspect in the murders.

Mike McStay spent the entire day on the stand talking about his brother Joseph and his accused murderer Chase Merritt.

Merritt is charged with killing Joseph; McStay's wife, Summer; and their 3- and 4-year-old sons. The family's disappearance in 2010 perplexed investigators for years, with no signs of forced entry at their Fallbrook home.

But at first, the family’s disappearance was of little concern to Mike, he told the jury. He thought they may have taken a short trip somewhere.

During this time, Mike said he spoke with Merritt over the phone. He said Merritt was also looking for Joseph.

NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports with the latest details from the trial.

The defense questioned Mike about specific dates and times he was in contact with Merritt and told the jury there was no evidence linking Merritt to the deaths.

Merritt was staying at Joseph and Summer’s house, looking after their dogs, according to Mike.

After two weeks went by, Mike said he went to sheriff’s investigators, worried about his family.

Investigators quickly discovered the family’s SUV, which had been towed from a parking lot in San Ysidro.

Surveillance footage in the area showed who officials believed to be the McStays walking into Mexico. But Mike said he knew right away that it wasn’t them.

“Summer would never take the boys to Mexico,” Mike said in court. “She was too, she had commented about this, so, my brother and I had surfed there years ago, and this is not as safe as it used to be.”

After nine years, a murder case is now going to trial. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda has more on the suspect accused of killing the McStay family.

Three years after the McStays disappearance, their bodies were found more than 100 miles away in a remote area of San Bernardino County, along with a 3-pound sledgehammer and a child's pants and diaper.

Supervising deputy district attorney for San Bernardino County accused Merritt of "desperately [trying] to cover his tracks after the murders.”

Prosecutors also accused Merritt of stealing thousands of dollars from Joseph’s custom fountain business by hacking his electronic bank account.

Merritt pleaded not guilty to the charges.

If convicted, Merritt could face the death penalty.

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