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Two-time felon pleads guilty to series of robberies

A two-time felon has pleaded guilty to a series of violent robberies including a home invasion -- in the city's Schiller Park neighborhood from two years ago.

Stephan Merritt, 35, of Poplar Avenue, is scheduled to be sentenced May 21 before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns, according to prosecutors Patrick B. Shanahan and James Schwegler.

He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 16 years to life in prison and a maximum of 50 years to life behind bars, Shanahan said.

Merritt was arrested in April 2011, after Buffalo detectives Terry Supples, Dave Rambino and Marvin Sanford linked him to several violent crimes within a short radius of his Poplar Avenue residence, Shanahan said.

The incidents happened between November 2010 and February 2011, and included a home invasion on Walden Avenue and the robbery of a woman in her driveway, Shanahan said.

Investigators believe Merritt was responsible for numerous other crimes.

"This guy is a one-man crime wave and a very violent individual," Shanahan said. "It was excellent work by Buffalo police."

Merritt was indicted by a grand jury in August, and the case was set to go to trial when he pleaded guilty this week to first-degree attempted burglary, second-degree robbery, second-degree attempted robbery and two counts of third-degree robbery, Shanahan said.

Merritt has two previous stints in prison for burglary and robbery. He was paroled in June 2010.