Merlin Santana, Who Played Stanley on 'The Cosby Show', Was 26 When False Claims against Him Led to His Death

Merlin Santana's life held a lot of promise, but it got cut-off at the age of 26 in the most tragic way possible.

Merlin Santana of "The Cosby Show" fame led a life that held a lot of promise, but it got cut short at the age of 26, when a bullet from a 12 gauge shotgun hit him in the head, killing him on the spot.

Merlin Santana attends the WB Winter TCA Press Tour All-Star Party on January 6, 2001 at Il Fornaio Restaurant in Pasadena | Photo: Getty Images

Merlin Santana attends the WB Winter TCA Press Tour All-Star Party on January 6, 2001 at Il Fornaio Restaurant in Pasadena | Photo: Getty Images

It happened on the night of November 9th, 2002; Santana and his friend, Brando Quintin Adams, were leaving the latter's apartment at Crenshaw District, Los Angeles.

They got into a car, but before driving off, gunshots targeted at the actor erupted, with a bullet hitting him. Adams managed to drive away but realized as soon as he stopped that Santana had died.

Police's investigation revealed the gunmen to be Damien Gates and Brandon Douglas Bynes. The two men were instigated to attack the late actor by Monique King, Gates' girlfriend.

Phylicia Rashad, Bill Cosby, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe on "The Cosby Show" | Photo: Getty Images

Phylicia Rashad, Bill Cosby, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe on "The Cosby Show" | Photo: Getty Images

King, who was 15 at the time, falsely accused the deceased of sexually abusing her. It turned out that Santana met her at a nightclub some nights before his death.

They had intercourse without the deceased knowing she was underage, and the child actor later changed his mind, which offended the then-teenager, and led to her lie.

During the trial of King, she got tried as an adult and without a jury and bagged ten years in a juvenile jail.

Gates got three life sentences, and 70 years imprisonment for murder and attempted murder of Adams, and Bynes got 23 years after pleading guilty.

Merlin Santana at the Il Fornaio Restaurant in Pasadena | Photo: Getty Images

Merlin Santana at the Il Fornaio Restaurant in Pasadena | Photo: Getty Images

After the sentencing, the Deputy District Attorney, Greg Dohi said: "This case was tragic all around… Merlin Santana was a very gifted actor, and his murder was utterly senseless." He continued:

"Monique King has had a miserable childhood, and this verdict punishes her fairly, and gives her a chance to turn her life around."

Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Phylicia Rashad, Tempestt Bledsoe, Bill Cosby, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Lisa Bonet on "The Cosby Show" | Photo:  Getty Images

Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Phylicia Rashad, Tempestt Bledsoe, Bill Cosby, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Lisa Bonet on "The Cosby Show" | Photo: Getty Images

Born on March 10th, 1976, in New York City, Santana began his acting career at the age of ten. Fame came in '91 when he portrayed "Stanley" the boyfriend of "Rudy Huxtable" on "The Cosby Show."

He equally had prominence for the six years he spent on "The Steve Harvey Show" as "Romeo Santana."

Merlin Santana during WB Network All Star Party at Il Fornaio Restaurant in Pasadena, California | Photo: Getty Images

Merlin Santana during WB Network All Star Party at Il Fornaio Restaurant in Pasadena, California | Photo: Getty Images

At the time of the late actor's death, the comedy, "The Blues," which he starred in, was in post-production and got released in 2003.

All that Santana could have been, the promises he held, and his dreams of the future got buried with him at Saint Raymond Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.

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