Virginia Beach man accused of injecting wife with cyanide found guilty; victim’s mother satisfied with verdict

Posted at 4:18 PM, Jun 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 23:14:16-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Joseph Merlino, the man accused of injecting his estranged wife, Ellie Tran with cyanide on Valentine's Day in 2017, has been found guilty.

The jury took an hour and a half to deliberate. That was the same amount of time Merlino spent on the stand.

Joseph Merlino

The Commonwealth and defense rested their case around 1 p.m. Friday afternoon. The jury began their deliberations around 4:18 p.m.

Merlino pleaded not guilty to the murder charges he is facing. He is now facing 20 years to life in prison.

News 3's Kim Cung spoke to Tran's mom, Oanh Thi Le, after the verdict in Vietnamese as Le doesn't speak English.

"I feel satisfied my daughter got justice. However, I'm still sad because I lost my daughter and I'll never get her back or see her again," said Le.

The whole process has been extremely emotional for her, said Le, who gave an emotional testimony Wednesday.

"It's extremely heartbreaking, watching that surveillance video it just breaks my heart," said Le.

When the verdict was read, Le, her daughter and family friends did not have an outward reaction. Merlino shook his head.

Moving forward, Le said she's ready to put this behind her. "I don’t even want to hear his name anymore. I don't want to see him. I don't have anything to say to him."

In jail last week, Merlino told News 3 he is innocent but would not elaborate further on the case. He has been on a hunger strike in the Virginia Beach City Jail in April 16.

A jury will hand down a recommended sentence Monday at 9:30 a.m.

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