June 5, 2008

Paparazzi accused of stalking actress

A celebrity photographer accused of stalking Jamie Lynn Spears and her fiance in a small Mississippi town has been arrested.

Edwin Merino, 30, of Los Angeles, posted bond yesterday.

He is scheduled to appear in court next week.

Authorities in Liberty, a small town in southwest Mississippi near the Louisiana border, said Merino wouldn't leave the pregnant Spears and her fiance, Casey Aldridge, alone.

Merino denied the accusations in a phone interview today with The Associated Press.

He said that he was about 60 metres away from the couple using a long lens when he was arrested at a petrol station.

Spears and Aldridge have been the subject of intense attention since she announced her pregnancy in December.

She said then she was 12 weeks along, which would make the 17-year-old due any time.

Merino said he'd had little luck taking pictures of the couple and was preparing to leave the area.

“I've seen the young man Casey in pictures,” Merino said. “I haven't worked on them myself. The first time I got a good look at him was in court.”

Spears' family representatives did not immediately return messages today.

Merino has worked as a celebrity photographer for five years.

He was one of the paparazzi who snared pictures of Jamie Lynn Spears' older sister, Britney, without underwear.

Merino said he was the only photographer following the younger Spears during most of his four days in the Liberty area.

“I just think since I was the only one there, it was just easier for them to single me out,” Merino said.

Merino's arrest was first reported by the McComb Enterprise-Journal.

Merino said he didn't spend any significant time in jail.

A deputy drove him to three automated teller machines and he got the $US1,143 ($A1,195) he needed to be released.

In the end, Merino said the trip was a waste.

“The one picture I got was kind of by luck,” he said.

“I got lucky when I saw them at Wal-Mart when I was buying deodorant.”

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