Man pleads guilty in impersonation case

Friday, May 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- An ex-convict who was behind the mistaken arrest of an innocent man over Easter weekend is headed to prison after pleading guilty to multiple crimes.

Terry Wayne Merrill, 25, pleaded guilty Thursday to five felony counts, including operating a chop shop, possessing a stolen vehicle, concealing a stolen bank card and false impersonation.

He was charged Monday with giving the name of "Jeffrey Detrick" to police who arrested him on Feb. 21 on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle and two traffic misdemeanors.

When Merrill failed to appear in court, a warrant was issued and the real Detrick, also 25 and of Tulsa, was arrested.

Detrick spent four days, including Easter, in jail before authorities determined he was the wrong man.

Under a plea agreement, other charges of auto theft and drug counts were dropped against Merrill.

Merrill was the focal point in a debate about juvenile justice a decade ago. A Department of Human Services counselor said the then-15-year-old had admitted to being involved in approximately 58 automobile-related crimes. Prosecutors tried to certify Merrill as an adult, but a judge ruled that he should remain in the juvenile system.