Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He was one of Maryland’s most notorious child rapists. Now–17-years after John Merzbacher was sentenced to life in prison–a federal court rejects an appeal that would have set him free.
Monique Griego has more on the decision.
Merzbacher appealed the case on a technicality. For the past few months, his victims have been fighting to keep him in jail.
Convicted child rapist and former Locust Point Catholic school teacher John Merzbacher will most likely die in prison, after a federal court reversed a decision which could have set him free.
“This victory doesn’t restore my childhood, doesn’t restore the of the rest of the group,” victim Elizabeth Murphy said.
Elizabeth Murphy was only 12 years old when Merzbacher began raping her at gunpoint.
In 1995, he was convicted of the crimes and given four life sentences. Since then, Murphy and other victims have rallied together to fight his appeals, a years long process that left them in constant fear.
“He held a loaded gun to my head at age 11, 12 and 13 when he raped me and he has continued to hold that gun to my head for the past 18 years,” she said.
Merzbacher’s latest appeal was based on a technicality. His new lawyer claimed an old attorney never told him about a potential plea deal of 10 years. But a federal court ruled there wasn’t enough evidence.
“The actual terms of the offer–if an offer had been made–were sufficiently vague and not firm enough,” said State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein.
Bernstein also says there wasn’t enough proof Merzbacher would have taken the deal since he constantly proclaimed his innocence.
Over the years, more victims have come forward. Murphy hopes they also get their day in court.
“They didn’t get to sit on the stand and look him in the eye like I did and say ‘You did this’ and hear the words ‘guilty’ for what he did to them,” said Murphy.
Merzbacher does have one appeal left through the Supreme Court. But there is no guarantee they’ll even agree to hear his case.The Archdiocese of Baltimore released a statement saying it was grateful for the decision and hoped it would eliminate Merzbacher’s chances of ever being released.