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Melissa Merritt found not guilty of killing former mother-in-law, faces retrial in ex-husband's murder

Melissa Merritt was found not guilty in the death of her former mother-in-law, in a verdict delivered by a jury at the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton. The jury could not reach a verdict on whether she was guilty in the death of her ex-husband. (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC - image credit)
Melissa Merritt was found not guilty in the death of her former mother-in-law, in a verdict delivered by a jury at the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton. The jury could not reach a verdict on whether she was guilty in the death of her ex-husband. (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC - image credit)

A Brampton jury has found Melissa Merritt not guilty of killing her former mother-in-law in a retrial more than a decade later, but it could not reach a verdict on whether she was guilty in the death of her ex-husband.

Merritt, 42, was acquitted of having ordered the murder of 63-year-old Bridget Harrison in 2010, in a verdict delivered by the jury Monday.

Her ex-husband, Caleb Harrison, was found dead in August 2013 in the same home where his mother was killed, on Pitch Pine Crescent in Mississauga, Ont.

Harrison was found strangled in his bed the same day his shared custody agreement with Merritt was set to end, court previously heard. Investigators determined at the time that both the mother and son had been asphyxiated. The deaths — which were three years apart and took place at the same home — were not initially deemed suspicious, but police later determined both were homicides.

Merritt was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings. She had pleaded not guilty to both counts.

Court previously heard Bridget was murdered by Merritt's common-law partner, Christopher Fattore, in her home in 2010.

In January 2014, the RCMP tracked down Merritt and Fattore in Nova Scotia, where they had moved shortly after the 2013 death, and charged the pair. Fattore was convicted of the crimes and is currently serving a life sentence for both killings, the jury heard.

During trial, the Crown alleged that Merritt was a "willing accomplice" in both deaths and not merely "an accessory after the fact" in Fattore's killings, because she was seeking sole custody of her two children at the time.

More to come.