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Son-in-law charged in woman’s murder

By Peter A. Sutters Jr.

Marie Jean Belcham, 57, of Queens Village was shot twice and her daughter, Myrna Belcham Merilien, 33, was struck by bullets 11 times at the couple's home in Rockdale County, the DA said.Jean J. Merilien, 37, a former resident of New York, turned himself into police shortly after the shootings took place on Oct. 30, according to District Attorney Richard Read. In January he was charged with murder.The couple's 15-year-old son called police and said he heard gunshots and police found him and four other children, ages 4, 6, 8 and 13, unharmed in the basement of the house, according to the DA.Belcham was found in the dining room of the home and Merilien was found in an upstairs bedroom, according to Read. A semi-automatic AK-47 assault rifle, believed to have been used in the killings, was discovered at the home, according to Read. Belcham's husband still lives in Queens and she had at least one son in addition to her daughter.Merilien told police that he had “snapped” and admitted to shooting the two women, the DA said.In January he was charged with two counts of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, according to Read. Merilien had been convicted of a drug crime in New York and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Georgia stemming from a physical confrontation the couple had prior to the shootings. Read said the couple had been having marital problems, but were back together at the time of the incident. Merilien was still being held in Rockdale County Jail.Read said he had not decided if he was going to seek the death penalty in the case. Lawyers representing Merilien at pre-trial hearings tried to indicate that the police had no forensic evidence linking him to the crime and had not considered that a third party might have been involved since Merilien turned himself into police about the same time the bodies were discovered, according to published reports. Paul Stalcup, Merilien's lawyer, could not be reached for comment.Merilien is due to be arraigned on the charges in February. Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by Phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.

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