News, Culture & Society

Man, 31, who killed his ex-girlfriend with cyanide wheeled into sentencing foaming at the mouth

The sentencing hearing for a Virginia man who poisoned his former girlfriend with a cyanide injection has been postponed because he was unresponsive and foaming at the mouth when he was wheeled into a Virginia Beach court.

Joseph Merlino III, 31, was rocking from side to side in a gurney type of wheel chair on Wednesday. 

A jail doctor said Merlino might be suffering from a mental condition caused by stress, the Virginia Pilot reported. Judge Les Lilley delayed the sentencing until Monday.

Merlino was said to have started showing signs that he was sick around 8am, a jail deputy told WTRK. 

 

Joseph Merlino III, 31, was rocking from side to side in a gurney type of wheel chair on Wednesday. A jail doctor said Merlino might be suffering from a mental condition caused by stress

Ellie Tran

A jury convicted Merlino (left) of first-degree murder in June for killing Ellie Tran (right) in 2017. They recommended a life sentence but Judge Les Lilley delayed the sentencing until Monday

‘This came out of nowhere,’ Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mario Lorello said. ‘We didn’t find out about it until this morning.’ 

A jury convicted Merlino of first-degree murder in June for killing Ellie Tran in 2017. They recommended a life sentence.

Merlino had gone on a hunger strike about two months before his trial began and lost about 40 pounds. The strike ended shortly after the trial did, on July 4.

Merlino was said to have started showing signs that he was sick around 8am

Merlino was said to have started showing signs that he was sick around 8am

'This came out of nowhere,' Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Mario Lorello said. 'We didn't find out about it until this morning.'

‘This came out of nowhere,’ Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mario Lorello said. ‘We didn’t find out about it until this morning.’

‘He hasn’t been on meal monitoring for quite some time,’ said jail spokeswoman Kathy Hieatt.

The 35-year-old Tran was attacked around 8pm on February 14 while pulling into her driveway. 

As she was walking to the front door, Tran was grabbed and injected with cyanide. The woman was declared brain dead a few hours later and died the next day. 

Security cameras had caught the footage used in the case and Tran had them installed after Merlino tried breaking into her home on a previous occasion. 

Merlino had gone on a hunger strike about two months before his trial began and lost about 40 pounds. The strike ended shortly after the trial did, on July 4

Merlino had gone on a hunger strike about two months before his trial began and lost about 40 pounds. The strike ended shortly after the trial did, on July 4

The woman’s mother said that she saw the man across the street, just moments after the attack. She also was the one who identified him in the video shown in court. 

Prosecutors also found that Merlino had used his computer to look up searches related to cynaide, three weeks before his attack. 

A FBI cryptanalyst also testified about the defendant usage of code in letters to his girlfriend in China. The letters included instructions on how to create a fake web alibi for him.

Merlino claimed that he was 150 miles away at the time of the murder.  

As Tran was walking to the front door on February 14, she was grabbed and injected with cyanide. The woman was declared brain dead a few hours later and died the next day

As Tran was walking to the front door on February 14, she was grabbed and injected with cyanide. The woman was declared brain dead a few hours later and died the next day

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.