Edward Merritt

Charges have been dropped against a Johnstown man facing trial for the 2014 murder of a 21-year-old man in Moxham.

Five counts against Edward Merritt, 32, including homicide, aggravated assault and burglary were all dropped Dec. 22 by a county judge after a petition was filed by the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office requesting the move, online court records show.

Efforts to reach prosecutors for comment were unsuccessful Sunday – but Merritt’s defense said the district attorney’s office acknowledged the commonwealth lacked “sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.”

“We appreciate the district attorney’s office recognizing there was not enough evidence to proceed.

“Dismissing the case now instead of waiting until the brink of trial was the honorable thing to do,” Ebensburg defense attorney Beth Tibbott said.

Merritt was arrested in April and lodged in Cambria County Prison.

Police alleged Merritt shot and killed Zachary Andrews and injured another man when they returned to a residence where he was staying in Moxham that day.

Cellphone records placed Merritt in the area that day – and police said he fled to Allentown after the shooting.

Merritt had maintained he was not guilty and was in the area that day to buy marijuana, his attorneys said at an October preliminary hearing.

Michael Kessler, a Florida defense attorney also representing Merritt, said called Merrit’s case “a rush to judgment.”

“Mr. Merritt never should have been charged,” he said.

Merritt remained in Cambria County Prison on Sunday on charges stemming from a separate case.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.