Pasco man accused of trying to punch police officer

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldNovember 15, 2012 

A Pasco man who killed his longtime girlfriend in 2001 during a drinking binge is back in court after allegedly trying to punch a cop dispatched to a call for an apparent overdose.

Kit Erroll Merriman, 57, pleaded innocent in Franklin County Superior Court to one count of third-degree assault, a felony.

His trial is scheduled Jan. 23.

According to court documents, Pasco police Officer Bill Wright was sent to the Loyalty Inn at 3:40 p.m. Nov. 2 to assist paramedics with a possible overdose.

Dispatchers told Wright that Merriman allegedly had overdosed on prescription medication. Dispatchers also warned Wright that Merriman has "an officer safety alert for being violent and combative," documents said.

Wright wrote in the court documents that Merriman's wife showed them into the 1800 W. Lewis St. motel room, where they found Merriman "very agitated and obviously intoxicated."

"I explained we were there to help him, and I asked if the medics could do a quick evaluation on him," Wright said.

However, Merriman reportedly got within a foot of Wright and stood face-to-face with the officer, saying, "Seriously, you need to leave!"

The officer said he pushed Merriman on the chest with a couple of fingers "to gain a little space," and Merriman responded by pushing Wright on the shoulder and chest area and trying to strike him with a fist.

Wright said in documents that he blocked the hit from Merriman and pushed him across the coffee table and onto the couch.

A paramedic then helped Wright get Merriman to the floor and handcuffed.

In February 2002, Merriman was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for killing Linda Grover in a Pasco motel room.

He had been charged with second-degree murder, but he took a plea agreement for reduced charges of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault.

Merriman entered an Alford plea, meaning he didn't admit guilt but believed prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him at trial. He said he had no recollection of what happened that night and believed Grover might have slipped and hit her head, which led to bleeding in the brain and her death.

Merriman, then 45, had been dating Grover, 43, since the two met in Oregon in the late 1990s. The homeless transients moved to the Tri-Cities in early 2000, and often camped out in Pasco and Finley or spent time at the Union Gospel Mission in Pasco.

Merriman called 911 the morning of Jan. 7, 2001, to report Grover's death at the Sage 'N Sun Motel near the cable bridge. Police found Merriman on one bed and Grover's bruised body on the other bed.

Merriman, Grover and a male acquaintance had been drinking heavily the night before. At some point, Merriman struck Grover and caused the fatal bleeding, prosecutors said.

A forensic pathologist said it could have taken up to 10 hours for Grover to die, and her injury could have been treated if police had been called earlier in the night.

Merriman, at his sentencing 10 years ago, apologized and said he loved Grover with all of his heart.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com

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