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Va. man gets life for injecting former girlfriend with cyanide

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has been sentenced to life in prison for poisoning his former girlfriend by injecting her with cyanide.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday that lawyers for Joseph Merlino III had argued that he spend 20 to 34 years behind bars.

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, Merlino lashed out in court against the media, prosecutors and his own defense.

Merlino’s sentencing was originally scheduled for last week. 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.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

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