A Laurel man charged with two armed robberies in late 2014 settled his final case in Laurel Circuit Court last week.

Chad Michael Merida, 25, was set for a pretrial conference before Circuit Judge Greg Lay on Jan. 2 and a jury trial on Jan. 18.

Instead, Merida entered a guilty plea to first-degree robbery and waived a formal sentencing hearing later on, opting to have his sentence imposed immediately during that hearing on Jan. 2.

Merida will now serve 11 years for the October 25 robbery of the Saddlebrook  Dollar General Store in which he reportedly threatened store staff with “the use of physical force while armed with a gun and in the course of committing a theft.”

Merida was indicted on that charge in Dec. 2014 as well as another charge in which he robbed the Game Stop store in London. He pled to that charge in early October and received an 11-year sentence.

The court document for the Dollar Store robbery does not indicate whether the two sentences will run at the same time or if Merida will serve one sentence after the other is completed.

The two robberies in London were among a string of armed robberies in which Merida was eventually charged. Those included businesses in Georgia and Florida, for which Merida pled guilty to 11 robberies in Sept. 2015. His official charges under federal statutes were interference with commerce by robbery, according to an announcement released by U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley in Tampa, Florida, after his plea agreement there.

The route that led Merida to a life of crime is not known, although he enjoyed success as a football player at both South Laurel High School and as a walk-on for the University of Kentucky football team in 2012.

Records from the Laurel County Correctional Center’s website indicates that Merida was brought to the London jail on Nov. 3 and remains incarcerated there.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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