VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has been sentenced to life in prison for poisoning his former girlfriend by injecting her with cyanide.
Lawyers for Joseph Merlino III had argued that he spend 20 to 34 years behind bars, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The 31-year-old Merlino maintained his innocence in the death of 35-year-old Ellie Tran in Virginia Beach in 2017. The two had a daughter.
Before his sentencing Dec. 10, Merlino lashed out in court against the media, prosecutors and his own defense.
Merlino’s sentencing was originally scheduled for Dec. 5. But it was postponed because he was unresponsive and foaming at the mouth when he was wheeled into court.
Merlino was on a hunger strike before his trial began and lost about 40 pounds. The strike ended shortly after the trial did.