Jefferson City Man May Face Death Penalty
Last month Merlati was charged with second degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Debbie Kolb.
Cole County prosecutor Bill Tackett says Merlati is now being charged with murder in the first degree and could face the death penalty.
The preliminary hearing for Merlati is set for Monday afternoon.
"Pending the receipt of some prior convictions, and again they have to be certified, we are leaning heavily toward filing for the death penalty,"said Tackett.
He says the prosecution waited until they had more solid evidence to increase the charges.
"It certainly lended itself to murder in the first degree." explained Tackett. "It was just a matter of getting that on paper, getting it as solid evidence, not rumor, but evidence that we could put in front of a jury and now we've got that, so we've gone forward."
Jefferson City police found Kolb dead in her home on Oak Creek court in early May.
A statement released by police said Kolb died as the result of numerous stab wounds.
Tackett says Merlati confessed to the killing while in a St. Louis hospital after being admitted for slitting his wrists.
Merlati is currently being held on a $1 million bond in the Cole County jail.
If the prosecution decides to pursue the death penalty for Merlati it will be the second time Cole County has sought the death penalty in the last three years.
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