Death penalty may be sought in IW

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Murder suspect Joseph “Jay” Joyner Jr. leaves the courthouse after a July hearing. Prosecutors in Isle of Wight County may seek capital punishment in the deaths of his father and stepmother, an official said this week.

By Stephen H. Cowles
The Tidewater News

ISLE OF WIGHT — Isle of Wight County Sheriff Mark Marshall said Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer may seek the death penalty against Joseph “Jay” Joyner Jr. for allegedly murdering his father and stepmother.

Marshall referred the matter to Farmer, who did not return repeated phone calls to The Tidewater News.

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Marshall made the statement after Joyner, 37, on Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for allegedly shooting Joe Joyner, 62, in the back of his head with a shotgun and beating Sandra Joyner, 58, to death on April 26.

Their bodies were found the next day at their Walters Highway home.

While investigators have not given a motive for the killings, friends of the victims have indicated it was over money.

By waiving the hearing, Joyner agreed there is enough evidence for the case to continue in Circuit Court.

A grand jury will hear the case on Nov. 9.

“He said he’s not involved,” said Virginia Beach attorney Sonny Stallings, who represents Joyner.

Stallings also said the death penalty could be an option, assuming charges are upgraded to capital murder. Joyner currently faces two counts of first-degree murder, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

During a July bond hearing, Stallings argued the case against Joyner is weak. Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer disagreed, saying Joyner could flee to Louisiana, where his wife and children live.

Joyner is being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk.