MCKINNEY –– Neighbors of a McKinney man said he's not welcome back home.
Eric Merz is accused of fatally shooting his wife last month. About a dozen residents showed up at a Collin County courtroom on Tuesday to plead with a judge to not change a court order to allow Eric Merz to return to the same house where his wife was killed.
Merz is out on bond, charged with the murder of his wife, Mary Beth. Merz' daughter came home from school March 6 and saw her mother lying on the floor. She had been shot five times.
After completing a 30 day substance abuse program, Merz moved into a McKinney hotel, wearing two ankle monitors. Now he wants to come home.
"We just have an empty house that needs to be lived in by somebody," said Dan Chern, Merz’ lawyer. "Mr. Merz has to live somewhere. We can't think of any reason why the man should be able to live in his home."
But homeowners are scared. They believe Merz is a dangerous man.
Homeowners converged on a justice of the peace court claiming the safety of their children is reason enough to keep the accused killer out of their neighborhood.
"I'm concerned, as a single mom for my children to feel safe," said Terrie Winter, a neighbor. "And knowing what went down across the street doesn't make us feel safe."
On the day after the murder, Judge Paul Raleeh signed an emergency order preventing Merz from returning to his house for at least 61 days.
Prosecutors claim it's too soon because the Merz children, who are living with their grandparents in Oklahoma, need more time to retrieve belongings, including a backyard swing set.
"If he's allowed back in the house, I can guarantee those children aren't getting that swing set," Collin County prosecutor Zeke Fortenberry told the judge.
Raleeh ruled the same state district judge who issued a protective order should also decide when Merz can come home.
"In the best interest of justice, it would be best if all this was done in one court," said Raleeh
Winter said if Merz returns, she will leave, taking her five kids somewhere they can feel safe.