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Decatur man accused of being an armed drug dealer denies new charges
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Decatur man accused of being an armed drug dealer denies new charges

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Merli

Merli. 

DECATUR — Blake E. Merli, described by Decatur police as a known drug dealer, is pleading not guilty to two charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and being an armed habitual criminal.

Merli, 25, also told Macon County Circuit Court Judge Phoebe Bowers on Wednesday that he denied further charges of armed violence and two counts of being a felon in possession of a weapon while on parole.

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Bowers said she found probable cause to try Merli after hearing evidence from Detective James Callaway that described Merli carrying a backpack stuffed with more than $17,000 and also holding 6.9 grams of meth.

Questioned by Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott, Callaway said Merli was arrested Aug. 12 after fleeing from officers on a motorcycle with a woman passenger. Callaway explained that Merli was a known narcotics dealer and had been under surveillance when he was seen to hand the backpack to the woman before they took off on the motorcycle.

Callaway said police gave chase after Merli committed a traffic infraction and refused to stop but later found the motorcycle abandoned on its side in an alley in the 800 block of East Prairie Avenue. The woman was caught at the scene and arrested and Merli was found and detained a short time later. The backpack was recovered and a loaded handgun was also found, Callaway said, dumped along the “flight path” Merli had taken.

“Merli admitted to selling methamphetamine and acknowledged that at least some of the money was proceeds from selling methamphetamine,” Callaway said in a sworn affidavit about the case. “Merli also acknowledged ownership of the handgun and particularly described it as a 9mm handgun with a clip along the side to facilitate carry on the person.”

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The 23-year-old woman he was with is also quoted as telling police she knew the backpack held drugs and cash and she was aware that Merli was armed.

“Based on your training and experience, was the amount of the methamphetamine that was located consistent with being possessed with intent to deliver?” asked Scott while questioning Callaway. “Yes,” the detective replied.

Defense attorney Dave Ellison asked if the police interview with Merli following his arrest was taped, and Callaway confirmed that it was. Ellison asked no further questions.

Bowers scheduled a pretrial date for Oct. 6. She said the court took notice that Merli also has two previous burglary convictions and is currently on parole after being sentenced to three years in prison for burglary in 2018.

Merli remains in custody at the Macon County Jail with bail set at $250,000, meaning he must post $25,000 to be released.


Mug shots from the Herald & Review

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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