Dearman Prevails in NC Will Contest Trial Victory

Posted on Nov 18, 2022 in News


NC Estate Litigator, Josh Dearman, argued before a Randolph County jury that the signature on probated Will of Tony Merritt was not the dead man’s signature.

November 7, 2022 trial session of Randolph County Superior Court, the Caveat to the Last Will and Testament of Tony Randall Merritt was tried before the Honorable Judge Lee Gavin.

Following a three-day trial, the Randolph County jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the Caveator Candy Monita, invalidating the challenged will which was filed by Propounder Billie Jo DeNoyelles.

During the course of the trial, the jury heard testimony from seven witnesses. 5 were called by Propounder, 2 were called by Dearman. The Propounder (Defender of the Will) called one of the alleged Witnesses to the invalidated Will and the Notary who notarized the document.

Josh called an expert handwriting witness trained in the field of forensic handwriting analysis. The expert was qualified by the court and testified that Mr. Merritt probably did not sign the will in question. Additionally, over 20 known examples of Mr. Merritt’s signature were introduced into evidence for comparison.

The Caveator’s attorney, Josh Dearman, argued that the jury should believe their eyes and not the story they had been told, and find that Mr. Merritt did not sign the will in question. In closing argument, Josh argued “If they have not proven to you that’s Merritt’s Will, then you must answer “No” to the jury question “Is Exhibit A the Last Will & Testament of Tony Merritt”.

After one hour of deliberations, the jury agreed with Josh Dearman and invalidated the challenged will filed by Ms. DeNoyelles.

Following the jury’s verdict, Caveator Candy Monita became the sole beneficiary of the Estate of Tony Randall Merritt.

Congratulations Josh on significant trial preparation and victory for your client.

Post Script: There’s a notary in Randolph County that’s going to have some issues with the Secretary of State.

For other ways to challenge a Last Will & Testament, see

CALL TODAY to discuss your Will Contest or Estate Litigation or Trust Dispute at 336-723-7200

NC Will Contest Attorney. Signature comparison