Merlin Santana 1976-2002

I have a lot of time in my hands right now, so I spend some of it reading and most of it watching movies or TV shows on my iPad via the Xfinity Player. While looking at the different TV shows on the Xfinity Player I came across a show called Celebrity Crime Files. This show is broadcast on TVOne and chronicles the death of high profile African Americans and this particular episode focused on Merlin Santana, who played Romeo Santana  The Steve Harvey Show from 1996-2002. He was also on Moesha and Hangin With Mr. Cooper. Some may remember him as Stanley on The Cosby Show from 1991 to 1992,

Merlin Santana as Stanley on The Cosby Show

but I believe his claim to fame was The Steve Harvey Show.

While on The Steve Harvey Show Merlin gained more fame and the perks that come with it which includes being able to jump to the front of the line when going to clubs, which Merlin did from time to time (go to clubs). But once the show ended so did the perks. He found himself having to wait in line with everyone else and not getting the special treatment he come accustomed to. In addition, he found the roles, TV and movie, were not flying in as he had hoped. The auditions he thought he nailed, he learned the roles went to someone else and this was a blow to him for he had been working as an actor since about the age of 10, and now at the age of 26, he was out of work.

It is believed that Merlin had severe depression after The Steve Harvey Show ended, but instead of staying inside and dealing with his depression, he tried other avenues, one of them being recording a rap album. He thought he could sell the album off his fame as Romeo, but I do not believe the album fared well and people found it hard to believe that Stanley and Romeo put out the type of rap album as Merlin did. People saw Merlin as the sweet and lovable Stanley and Romeo, not a gangsta rapper.

One particular night he’s out with his friend Byron Adams (also a child actor People Under the Stairs) at a Chinese restaurant when they met up with a girl and her friend. The girl told Merlin that her name was Mercedes. All four of them hand dinner and went to a club later that night and hung out. Later on that evening, Merlin and “Mercedes” had sex and then went their separate ways afterwards. The next day when “Mercedes was hanging with Merlin he didn’t show her the same attention he did the day before and this fueled something in her. But let’s get the back story on “Mercedes” whose real name is Monique King.

Monique had been in 18 foster homes due to her mother being a prostitute and a drug addict. Monique’s father was not in the picture at all. Monique learned to manipulate people to get what she wants or to get people to do what she wants. Her ability to do this would lead to Merlin’s untimely death.

I am not sure if it was the same night or a few days later, but Monique met up with some friends of hers, Damien Gates and Brandon Bynes, along with the girl she was with the night she met Merlin. Because she was mad at Merlin for “giving her the cold shoulder”, she told Gates and Bynes that Merlin had raped her and she told in a way that it got her friends fired up and wanting to do something about it. That same night, they went back to their place and got their guns. Gates got a 12 gauge shotgun with a laser on it and Bynes got a hand gun. After retrieving their weapons, they learned where Merlin would be, which was at a house party, and waited for him to come out of the house. When Merlin and his friend left the party, they sat in Brandon”s car for a second or so. While sitting there they noticed a red laser in the review mirror and both looked back to see what it was and that’s when Gates and Bynes opened fire on Merlin and his friend, mostly at Merlin. Brandon was able to drive off and once he was at a safe spot, he noticed that Merlin was slumped over in the passenger seat. Brandon immediately called 911 in which Merlin was taken to the hospital but later died. The cause of death was a bullet to the head.

The police later arrested Monique, (who was really 15 and not of age as she had Merlin believe). and her accomplices. It was later learned that the shot that killed Merlin was from the 12 gauze (Gates) and that the handgun (Bynes) never fired a shot because it jammed. Monique only got 10 years in juvenile hall  for her participation in the crime. She will be 25 years old when exiting from Juvenile Hall, which means she has her whole life a head of her, as long as she doesn’t get killed or end up in prison for life. Gates got three consecutive life sentences plus 70 years in prison. Bynes received 23 years for assault with a deadly weapon and voluntary manslaughter.

I am not sure if Santana would have had a long career in the movies, but I’m sure he would have had one on TV, and from what I gather from the show Celebrity Crime Files, Santana was a descent guy. A good guy.

His murder was senseless, as most murders are. The person who initiated the hit is out and about enjoying her life and more than likely not caring about what she did. She might even be planning to take someone else out or someone has or will take her out. But I believe strongly in Karma and she will get hers, either now or in her old age. As for the gunmen, they both learned a hard lesson and let’s hope that lesson stays with them for a long time. I know it will with Gates.



The friend that Merlin was with on the night he died name was Brandon, not Byron (courtesy of Candace)


6 thoughts on “From Steve Harvey To A 12 Gauge: The Life and Death of Merlin Santana

  1. Very well written. I remember first hearing of his death and being just floored…he was so full of life on the screen not to mention easy on the eyes. I always wondered exactly why did he get shot? This explains why. There is a place in hell for girls like Monique. I’m sure she has no regrets or feelings for what she did and her actions leading to a senseless MURDER. Sociopaths have no remorse or feelings but we all know she will get hers one day.

  2. I was fortunate enough to have met Merlin 2 years before he was murdered. I met him through a mutual friend and worked out at the gym together a number of times. Merlin was a talented, considerate, handsome, low-key and somewhat of a “shy” guy. I remember him rehearsing his lines for an upcoming audition for the television show “JAG” in between sets at the gym. “Yes Sir!!” “Yes Sir!” he kept practising as he saluted us, laughing. He didn’t seem to take his career or his past accomplishments for granted nor did he act “entitled” either. I appreciate your article that you’ve posted because it helped me to clear up some nagging questions that I’ve had over the years since his death. But I just wanted to say that Merlin was a good, decent guy and I’m sure he would’ve had a very successful career and a good life had the situation and circumstances that he had stumbled into, been different than what they were. Merlin will always be remembered.

  3. I didn’t know that Merlin Died,I was shocked when I saw that show Celebrity Crime Files on Youtube after watching a couple of the Steve Harvey Show Episodes.

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