AUGUSTA — A man police say robbed three area pharmacies and led authorities on a high-speed motorcycle chase Friday before crashing made an initial court appearance Monday on charges related to one of the robberies.

Shawn Michael Merrill, 26, of Farmingdale, was not asked to enter a plea to the robbery charge related to the Waterville Walmart pharmacy on June 12. He remains behind bars because he’s being held without bail on other charges.

“That gives us time to complete the investigation,” said Acting District Attorney Alan Kelley. “He has not been charged with any other robberies or motor vehicle charges as a result of the high-speed chase. It is anticipated that there will be other charges.”

Merrill is a suspect in Friday’s robbery of Rite Aid on Main Street in Fairfield and another robbery on June 12 of the pharmacy at Goggins IGA on Water Street in Randolph.

Merrill was out on bail following his conviction for a March 2010 robbery of a gas station attendant at the J&S Oil convenience store on Mount Vernon Avenue in Augusta, according to court records.

He had been in Co-Occurring Disorders Court, a specialty court designed for defendants with substance abuse and mental health problems, and will be terminated from that program.

At the Walmart pharmacy on Waterville Commons Drive, the robber — who claimed to have a gun and wore no disguise — first did a little shopping using the self-checkout and then took a Creatine container to the pharmacy counter and talked to a pharmacist, according to an affidavit filed in court by Waterville Police Officer Chris Paradis. Then the robber made a phone call, and returned to the counter, demanding 30-milligram oxycodone pills and saying he was armed.

The pharmacist told him, “You are not going to believe me, but I do not have oxycodone 30.”

“I’m sick and need oxy,” the robber replied.

The pharmacist gave him a bottle of 47 pills of 15-milligram oxycodone and the robber fled.

Video footage from the store led police to identify Merrill as the suspect. The affidavit describes him as homeless, most recently living in Augusta. There were also active warrants for his arrest in Connecticut on pharmacy robbery charges.

The manhunt that led to Merrill’s arrest began at 1 p.m. Friday, shortly after he allegedly approached a pharmacy clerk with a note demanding drugs at Rite Aid in Fairfield. He also lifted his shirt and displayed a handgun tucked into his waistband, police said.

The robber fled Rite Aid with about 150 30-milligram tablets of oxycodone, hopped into a tan car with another man and headed south toward Waterville.

Almost three hours later, Merrill was spotted by state police driving a motorcycle south on Route 32 in China. When troopers tried to stop him, he led them on a chase through Windsor, then west on Route 17 toward Augusta. Merrill dumped his motorcycle, slid off the road in Chelsea, and was caught a short time later, police said.

In court Monday, Merrill told Justice Donald Marden his fiancée’s mother was trying to retain a lawyer for him in the Waterville case. Merrill said he hoped it was attorney Stephen Bourget, who was with him during Monday’s court appearance.

Marden set Merrill’s next court date for Aug. 28 if a grand jury does not return an indictment in the meantime.

He’s being held on $250,000 cash bail on the Waterville robbery charge, with conditions of no use or possession of intoxicants and no contact with any Walmart in Kennebec County.

Merrill, who spent much of the hearing with his head down, also entered a denial to a prosecution motion to revoke post conviction bail related to the 2010 robbery. In that case, he is charged with fleeing from the courthouse May 29, and he has had a warrant for his arrest on that charge since then.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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