Murder trial begins for man accused of injecting wife with cyanide on Valentine's Day

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WTKR) — Nearly a year and half after his arrest, Joseph Merlino’s trial is set to begin in Virginia Beach.

Merlino was arrested in February 2017 after police say he injected his estranged wife, Ellie Tran with cyanide on Valentine’s Day, ultimately killing her.

Merlino is pleading not guilty to the murder charges he faces. In jail last week Merlino told News 3 he is innocent but would not elaborate further on the case.

Merlino has been on a hunger strike in the Virginia Beach City Jail in April 16.

The trial had a slow start. It took the entire first day for a jury to be seated. Some of the concerns jurors had were with the extensive media coverage of the case, the violent death of Tran and the fact that the trial is expected to last several days.

Before jury selection began, Merlino told the judge he was not satisfied with how his attorney’s handled his case. The defense asked for a continuance but the judge ultimately denied the request.

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