RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A jury on Friday found Justin Merritt guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Raleigh resident Andy Banks in 2020.
Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley then ruled that Merritt will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Merritt had been accused of fatally shooting Banks during a meetup arranged on Craigslist where Merritt had traveled from Virginia to look at Banks’ 2011 Range Rover for possible purchase.
At some point during a test drive of the vehicle, prosecutors said Merritt shot Banks at least five times in the back before taking the vehicle and Banks’ body to his home state of Virginia, dumping Banks’ body in a rural field.
Merritt was also found guilty of robbery, larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Attorneys for Merritt admitted earlier this week that he killed Banks but said his actions were not premeditated.
Prosecutors didn’t say when they believe Merritt decided he was going to kill Banks. Testimony from the medical examiner claimed Banks was shot between five and nine times.
Merritt spoke to the court on Friday after the verdict. He apologized to Banks’ family and told them he never intended for any of this to happen.
Merritt then took some time to speak about his own family, apologizing to them.