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  • Leslie Allen Merritt is pictured in this undated handout booking photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

    Leslie Allen Merritt is pictured in this undated handout booking photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 April 2016

A judge is expected to rule to formally dismiss the case against Merritt as early as Monday.

Prosecutors in Arizona on Friday moved to drop charges against the man accused in a string of freeway shootings that terrorized the Phoenix area last summer.

The move came after a judge on Tuesday reduced the bail of 21-year-old Leslie Allen Merritt Jr to nothing from US$150,000, clearing the way for his release later that day.

"We have a professional and ethical duty to act in the interest of justice and not merely seek a conviction and this is a textbook example of doing that," said Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

A ballistics expert has called into question the methodology used early on in the investigation that tied Merritt, a landscaper, to the shootings, Cobb said.

A judge is expected to rule to formally dismiss the case against Merritt as early as Monday.

Merritt was arrested last Sept. 18 and charged with 15 criminal counts, including drive-by-shooting and aggravated assault, for four of 11 shooting incidents along a stretch of Interstate 10 that passes through Phoenix.

The shootings, which occurred in late August and early September, struck fear among motorists in the area.

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