Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit in freeway shootings case

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a landscaper who contends authorities falsely accused him in a string of 2015 Phoenix freeway shootings when they knew their evidence was weak.

Judge David Gass' ruling Wednesday denies a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed Sept. 13 by Leslie Merritt Jr. and allows the case to proceed toward trial. Defendants include the state and Maricopa County

The lawsuit accuses state crime lab workers of assuring detectives that they were sure Merritt's handgun was used in four of the shootings. It also alleges that prosecutors misled grand jurors about the reliability of the ballistics evidence.

Charges have been dismissed against Merritt, who has insisted he was innocent. He spent seven months in jail before his April release.

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