MADEIRA BEACH, Florida - Loved ones of a local commercial fisherman who was beaten and left for dead want to make sure justice is served.
Michael Merrill died from his injuries on Wednesday. Friends and family want the three men arrested for beating him to be charged with his murder.
"They need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Merrill's niece, Sheila Brodeur.
According to authorities with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Tim Schulyer, Joshua Shroyer, and Kord Tucker were arrested and charged with aggravated battery back in September. Tucker has since bonded out.
Detectives said it happened while Merrill was aboard the Lilly Anne, which was docked at a marina near the Madeira Beach Seafood Company. Schulyer, Shroyer, and Tucker, according to investigators, confronted Merrill, who reportedly threatened them with a knife. Family members, however, say Merrill pulled the knife for protection.
Detectives said the men left the boat, but later came back and beat Merrill with tools and other objects. The 57-year-old eventually escaped by hiding under a dock.
According to his niece, Merrill's injuries included twenty cuts to the head, seven broken ribs, and an injured spleen. He died three weeks later.
"Always had a kind word for somebody. Good man, harmless. Harmless as they got. You know, he didn't deserve what he got. Nobody deserves what he got," said friend of 30 years Todd Kester.
Authorities said the State Attorney's Office is reviewing the case and charges in light of Merrill's death. Investigators received conflicting accounts of what started the beating incident. The investigation continues.
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