Atlanta man sentenced to life for violent carjacking in Gwinnett

An Atlanta man was sentenced to life in prison for a Gwinnett County carjacking in which he hit the victim with a chair before pointing a gun at her head, the district attorney’s office said in a release.

Jeffrey Merritt Jr., 36, was convicted of aggravated assault, armed robbery and hijacking a motor vehicle. The verdict was returned April 24 after a one-day trial.

MORE | Cops: Man hit Gwinnett woman over the head with a chair in carjacking

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The victim was walking to her car in the parking lot of a Lawrenceville apartment complex around 6 a.m. on June 22, 2017 when she was hit over the head with a chair. She looked up and saw Merritt, the release said. Merritt demanded her keys. When she handed them over, Merritt prevented the victim from standing up, pulled out a gun and told her to give him her purse as well, the release said.

A car drove by, distracting Merritt long enough for the victim to run away and call 911. Merritt fled the complex in the victim’s car, the release said. More than two weeks later, a Doraville police officer pulled Merritt over in the victim’s car; the car was impounded but later released to Merritt. 

Merritt had changed the car's license plate and VIN to those connected to his name, Gwinnett County police said. Merritt was arrested for the carjacking on Aug. 2, 2017.

The jury deliberated for slightly more than an hour before returning a guilty verdict on all counts. Merritt was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

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Investigators said the man is wanted for dozens of crimes in Rockdale, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Clayton counties and they need your to help catch him.

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