Councilman Merrill denies DA allegations - KLFY News 10

Councilman Merrill denies DA allegations

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New Iberia City Council Member David Merrill is denying the state's challenge to his seat.

Merrill's attorney, Lewis Pitman, says Merrill pleaded guilty to several possession charges in 2003, but was dismissed in 2005 after completing his probation.

"The petition that has been filed against Mr. Merrill is that he entered a plea under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893," says Pitman.

According to Merrill's affirmative defense, filed on October 10, under that article his dismissal has "the same effect as an acquittal."

"The plea is converted to an acquittal as if he was found not guilty at trial for non-criminal matters and that's where our affirmative defense is and our answer to the petition," says Pitman.

Also under that article, it states that a dismissal has "the same effect as an acquittal for purposes of expungement."

District Attorney Phil Haney has said in past interviews with KLFY that Merrill's expungement is irrelevant and says in the petition against Merrill, under state law, he needed either 15 years to lapse after finishing his sentence or a governor's pardon.

Fellow council member Raymond "Shoe-Do" Lewis says with the city's budget adoption only a week away, Merrill's legal woes could become a distraction.

"At this time, I just don't feel that for me, if I was in that position that the citizens of New Iberia would be comfortable," says Lewis.

Pitman says a trial date has been requested and he is now waiting for it to be assigned.

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