Man Convicted of Kidnapping, Interstate Domestic Violence and Firearms Charges Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison

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Prison fence. Grid fence with barbed wire against sunset. Barbed wire. Security measures for prisoners in prison.

SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that Dillon James Merritt, 54, of Many, Louisiana was sentenced today by United States District Judge Donald E. Walter to life imprisonment, plus 600 months in prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release, on kidnapping, interstate domestic violence, and firearms charges. This sentence is the result of two separate cases in which Merritt was charged and convicted.

In the first case, Merritt was charged in December 2019 with two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Law enforcement officers with the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, learned that Merritt, who had several felony convictions, had firearms in his possession. On January 12, 2018, law enforcement officers arrested Merritt on a warrant based on his illegal possession of a firearm. Merritt went to trial in April 2021 and was convicted by a federal jury on both of those counts.

In the second case, Merritt was charged in September 2020 with one count of kidnapping, two counts of interstate domestic violence, and one count of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. He was convicted by a federal jury after a three-day trial in July of this year on all four counts. Evidence at the jury trial revealed that on December 12, 2017, Merritt kidnapped a woman in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and took her across state lines to Texas and held her against her will for four days. Merritt and the woman (victim) briefly dated in the fall of 2017, but after Merritt punched the victim in the stomach following an argument, she severed the relationship with Merritt. Following the breakup, he continually called the victim and harassed her.

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During the evening hours of December 12, 2017, Merritt found the victim walking back home from visiting with a friend near the Walmart parking lot in Natchitoches and struck her in the head and put her in a truck and left. The victim was bound and gagged and hidden under clothing in the vehicle and for the next several days, was taken by Merritt to various locations in Louisiana and remote locations in Texas near Toledo Bend. Merritt repeatedly raped the victim, doused her with lighter fluid and tried to set her on fire, and severely beat her with his fists, elbows, feet and with a Maglite flashlight over this four-day period causing serious bodily injury to the victim. In addition to the brutal beatings, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual abuse on the victim committed by Merritt, he possessed with the intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Additional evidence was introduced at today’s sentencing hearing of Merritt’s past victims who have suffered at his hand, including three young children and four other women besides the victim in this kidnapping case. Those crimes are as follows:

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“The severe brutality and sexual abuse which this defendant has inflicted upon others has finally ended and the life sentence he received ensures that he will never be a threat to society again,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook. “He preyed upon helpless children and women who were vulnerable and unknowing, and scarred each of them for the rest of their lives. We hope that this sentence can bring some form of healing to the eight victims – three children and five women – who suffered at the hands of such an evil and despicable person.”

The FBI, Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Sabine County Sheriff’s Office in Hemphill, Texas conducted the investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cadesby B. Cooper prosecuted both cases.

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