In the parking lot, Merck and his companion were leaning on a parked car with multiple occupants inside.
One of the occupants of the car asked them to not lean on the car.
Merck and his companion sarcastically apologized. James Anthony Newton approached the car and engaged in a conversation with the occupants in the car. Merck made a snide remark to Newton, after overhearing an occupant of the car, Katherine Sullivan (who had been drinking and was an off-duty bartender at the bar), congratulating Newton on his birthday.
Newton told Merck to mind his own business, and Merck attempted to provoke a fight, which Newton refused.
Merck walked over to his car, unlocked his passenger-side door, took off his shirt, and threw his shirt in the back seat. Merck approached Newton once again and began punching him in the back.
Sullivan testified that she saw a glint of light from some sort of blade and saw blood spots on Newton’s back. Sullivan testified that she ran back into the bar and told bouncers to call 911.
At the trial, Sullivan described the person who stabbed Newton as a man wearing khaki pants.
She stated that it was Merck, not Thomas, who made snide remarks and goaded Newton to fight. James Carter, the chief security for the nightclub, ran out to the parking lot after Sullivan reported the stabbing. He saw a car pulling out of the parking lot and was able to get the license plate number. Another coworker was assisting Newton, who was moving and coughing up blood. According to medical examiners, Newton died from multiple stab wounds, but the main fatal wound was to the neck.
Source: Florida Commission on Capital Cases