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Judge to Rule If Scerbo and Merkel Will Be Tried Together

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Rochester: Judge to Rule If Scerbo and Merkel Will Be Tried Together
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A man and woman accused of causing the death of a popular Fairport High School teacher were back in Monroe County Court on Tuesday.

Mark Scerbo and Megan Merkel appeared before Judge Doug Randall once again. The focus Tuesday was whether or not Merkel and Scerbo should be tried together. Even though there has never been a plea deal on the table, the court has received an outpouring of letters from the community opposing such an offer.

Prosecutor Ray Benitez says Merkel acted in concert with Scerbo by "playing tag" with each other while operating the vehicles that resulted in the fatal accident.

Merkel's attorney, James Hinman, says Scerbo's acts and reckless driving were independent of Merkel. Hinman says the severance motion is vital to his client's ability to receive a fair trial, separate from Scerbo.

"There are different circumstances pertaining to each defendant in this matter that I think a joint trial will create confusion on the part of the jury and they will tend to mix instead of keep separate the roles of each. He set everything in motion, not Ms. Merkel,” said Hinman.

If the severance motion is denied, the court may consider providing two separate juries for the trial.

"Some of the evidence, if not all the evidence is the same for both cases. We believe the counts contained in the indictment fairly and squarely are sufficient to hold them both responsible for the death of Heather Boyum whether they are tried separately or jointly,” Benitez said.

Boyum was riding her bicycle along the shoulder on Route 250 in Penfield early July 29th when Scerbo allegedly struck her with the motorcycle he was driving. That tossed Boyum onto the road and into the path of the car Merkel was driving, killing the mother of two.

Scerbo is facing three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and other DWI charges. Merkel is facing one count of vehicular manslaughter. Both have entered not guilty pleas.

Judge Randall will issue his decision on the request for separate trials in February.

Both Scerbo and Merkel are being held in the Monroe County Jail. The trial is scheduled to start March 11th.

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