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Alma, Wisconsin (KROC-AM News) - Wisconsin prosecutors have upgraded the murder charge faced by a Rochester man accused of killing his live-in girlfriend 5 years ago.

The criminal complaint against 50-year-old Randall Merrick has been amended to include a first-degree intentional murder charge that carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. He was previously charged with first-degree reckless murder in connection with th death of Beth Johnson and is scheduled to stand trial next month.

Merrick was arrested at his home in Rochester in June of last year on an arrest warrant that accused him of killing Johnson sometime between Christmas Day in 2016 and the following March. He is also charged with hiding a corpse for allegedly dumping Johnson's body in a wooded area of a northern Twin Cities suburb where her remains were discovered around the same time Merrick was arrested.

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Prior to her death, Merrick and Johnson lived together in a home near Nelson, Wisconsin, across the Mississippi River from Wabasha. He remains in the Buffalo County Jail on $1 million bail. Jury selection for his trial is currently scheduled to begin on December 6th.

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