Pellot murder trial Day 7: state rests, defense to start tomorrow

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 3:44 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The murder trial for the man accused of killing his wife entered its seventh day on Tuesday, March 28, at the 406th District Court.

Joel Pellot, a former certified registered nurse anesthetist, is accused of killing his wife Maria Eugenia Muñoz back in 2020. Pellot allegedly gave Muñoz a bottle of pills, which caused her death.

After a week of testimonies and nearly a dozen witnesses, the state has rested in the murder trial of Joel Pellot. Now, it’s the defense’s turn to fight in court.

For three days, Sergeant Luis Mata has been on the stand. He was a detective in 2020 and was assigned to the case. The state continued to cross-examine Mata who was asked about a recorded conversation between police and Pellot. Some of the questions pertained to how Pellot’s wife, Maria Munoz, was found on the night of her death and what drugs were given to her.

On Wednesday, March 29, it will be Pellot’s attorney, Roberto Balli’s turn to question witnesses in the case.

The trial continues in the 406th District Court.

Day 1:

On the first day of the trial, Monday, March 20, both sides presented jurors with revealing and shocking allegations of possible motives as well as what happened days before Muñoz was found dead. At that time, not much was said about the case or even a possible motive but during opening statements, both sides made some shocking discoveries.

One of the possible motives that were brought to light was the marriage possibly coming to an end. Webb County Assistant District Attorney Marisela Jacaman accused Pellot of having an affair with a coworker, Janet Arredondo. Jacaman went on to tell jurors Pellot was going to leave Muñoz for Arredondo.

Jacaman told jurors Muñoz had confessed to her friend that she feared for her well-being after she asked her friend to pray for her because Pellot wanted to meet with her.

The Webb County Medical Examiner Dr. Corinne Stern ruled the death as undetermined saying seven different drugs were in Munoz’s system. The drugs included were Narcan, morphine, as well as many others.

Pellot’s attorney, Roberto Balli, said both he and Muñoz were drug abusers and claimed Muñoz had suicidal thoughts. Balli said Pellot injected Narcan into Muñoz with the intention to save her and added that her death was an accident.

Day 2:

On Tuesday, March 21, the jury heard from first responders who were present on the day of her death including the 911 call made, and the officer who arrived at the scene.

The court heard from officer Greg de la Cruz. De la Cruz was the first one who arrived at the crime scene when Pellot called 911 in September 2020. The body camera footage from officer De la Cruz that was shown to the jury was about an hour long.

After a brief lunch break, the next two witnesses took the stand.

Reynaldo Veliz is a retired paramedic from the Laredo Fire Department who got to the crime scene after officer De la Cruz. Veliz explained that Muñoz was colorless and with no heartbeat when they found her. He also noted fully dilated pupils which he attributed to brain death.

Toxicologist William Schroder explained ketamine was found in Muñoz. Schroder said ketamine can affect blood pressure and removes mental capacity. Veliz said ketamine is not carried by the fire department. The toxicology reports have shown so far that no marijuana and no alcohol were found in Muñoz’s system.

Day 3:

On Wednesday, March 22, Pellot’s coworker, a woman named Janet Arredondo took the stand saying she and Pellot were having an affair and that Pellot was going to leave Munoz for Arredondo. It is believed that the affair could have been a motive for Pellot to allegedly be behind the death of his wife.

Pages of Munoz’s diary were presented by attorney Roberto Balli but read by the Medical Examiner Investigator Sheila Miller. Some passages indicated that Munoz was going through an emotional rollercoaster and that her husband was not “the prince charming she once married.” It also indicated cracks in her marriage.

Pellot’s alleged lover, Arredondo, testified that Pellot asked her to delete the Ring camera video from the night that Muñoz was found dead. She told jurors the last time she and Pellot spoke was the night of September 21, 2020, which is the night after Muñoz was found dead in her home.

Day 4:

Emotional moments were witnessed by a jury and even felt by Joel Pellot, the man accused of killing his wife, Maria Eugenia Munoz back in 2020.

The court was in session for over eight hours on Thursday as jurors were shown evidence ranging from police body cam footage, text messages, and pictures that showed the crime scene and around the Pellot household.

Tina Dores was the first person to take the stand for the fourth day of trial.

Dores, who is a registered nurse and certified in handling anesthetics, talked about how she knew Pellot along with Janet Arredondo; Arredondo has previously stated that she had an affair with Pellot.

Dores was also asked about certain lifesaving procedures after the jury was shown body cam footage showing Pellot and an officer performing CPR on Munoz while unconscious.

After the day’s lunch break, the next person to take the stand was Luis Ayala Villanueva, another certified registered nurse who has known Pellot for almost three years.

Villanueva described him as a “fun guy” and a “competent employee.”

Villanueva also told the prosecutor and the jury that he knew about Pellot’s relationship with Arredondo and what he called “adventures.”

After roughly 20 minutes of testimony, Villanueva was dismissed, and the district attorney called Dr. John Huntsinger, an anesthesiologist to testify.

Dr. Huntsinger was brought in to explain the toxicology report conducted on Munoz.

The fourth person to take the stand was Steven Nutt, an agent for the U.S Homeland Security Investigations Unit.

He was brought in by the prosecutor to examine text messages and pictures sent to Munoz’s cellphone from Pellot.

Lastly, a crime scene investigator from the Laredo Police Department, Shelby Varela was called to testify.

He was questioned about the evidence that he collected from the night of Munoz’s death.

The evidence included a small purse with perfume inside, several writing pens, and even several small medicine bottles.

More witness testimony and more evidence are expected to be shown to the jury on Friday.

Day 5

On the fifth day of the murder trial for the man accused of killing his wife, more evidence was shown to jurors and additional witnesses took the stand at 406th Judicial District Court.

Joel Pellot, a former certified registered nurse anesthetist, is accused of killing his wife Maria Eugenia Muñoz back in 2020. Pellot allegedly gave Muñoz a bottle of pills, which caused her death.

It was a late start to day five of the murder trial; however, on Friday, Marisol Muñoz Rodriguez, the sister of Maria Munoz took the stand.

She testified that she noticed a change in the behavior of her sister while she was married to Pellot.

Shortly before Maria’s death, she had told Marisol to pick her up, buy a plane ticket, and take her home to Puerto Rico.

The state presented several letters as evidence, written by Maria to Marisol that stated Pellot wanted to work on their marriage.

Another letter, written by Maria, indicated that had given Pellot an ultimatum on their relationship.

While another letter stated Maria wanted a divorce and was planning on taking Pellot to court.

Marisol told jurors she found out of her sister’s death through Pellot’s mother, where Pellot’s mother called Maria’s death an “accident.”

Marisol said she and Pellot spoke to each other and Pellot told her Maria had died from an overdose.

She told jurors that Pellot told her, Maria’s final request was to be cremated.

Marisol said this created an argument between Pellot and Marisol because Marisol’s focus was on what would happen to Maria’s children.

After Marisol was excused, the state called Laredo Police Sergeant Luis Mata to the stand who was a detective at the time of Munoz’s death.

The state presented Mata with pictures of the crime scene where Maria’s body was found.

According to Mata, Pellot had claimed he was intimate with her that night of her death.

He then took a shower and apparently found her unresponsive.

Crime scene photos were shown that questioned Pellot’s claims that he had taken a shower before finding Maria unresponsive.

The pictures also presented, questioned Pellot’s claims that he had moved Maria’s body to a flat surface to perform CPR.

Pellot’s medical records were also shown and exposed.

The next piece of evidence that was shown to the court was the interrogation video conducted by Sgt. Luis Mata was a detective back in 2020.

In the video, Joel Pellot is seen as hysterical and emotional.

Then detective Mata asked Pellot if Munoz had injected herself, to which he said in the video, “He did not know, but what he did know is that she needed relief.”

In it, Pellot claimed he did not inject Munoz.

Mata is then seen asking Pellot if there was any anesthesia in his house, to which he replied, he did not know.

Pellot claimed that Muñoz injected herself with testosterone because she wanted to be in good shape.

He added that she knew how to use injections because she was in nursing school and knew about injections.

Also in the video, Pellot said Munoz went to his ex-lover’s home, Janet Arredondo to confront her about the relationship. That is when he called the cops because the situation had gotten intense. He claims Munoz went twice to Janet’s home.

Pellot told Mata he was ashamed of having an affair and met Arredondo when he was working at Doctor’s Hospital.

Pellot told Mata he felt that he was being, “Pushed to the edge” because of Maria.

In the video, Mata leaves the room and Pellot is heard crying.

When Mata comes back, he questions Pellot about the couple’s finances and their vehicles.

Pellot claimed, “Everything was controlled by Maria (Munoz)” and does not know how to explain to his two boys the death of their mother.

At the end of the video, Mata is seen taking pictures of Pellot in the room.

Day 6:

On Monday, Laredo Police Sergeant Luis Mata returned to the stand.

Mata was a detective at the time of Munoz’s death.

A voice recording between police and Joel Pellot was played for the jurors.

The recording was from outside of the Children’s Advocacy Center talking about details of September 22, 2020.

They urged Pellot to tell the truth if he was behind the death of Maria Eugenia Munoz.

Pellot was heard claiming that Munoz was drinking vodka, and wine and taking “gummies.”

During the conversation, Pellot sounded concerned about telling his children about Munoz’s death.

The officers were heard asking Pellot “Did you inject her?” and the ultimatum Munoz allegedly made to Pellot about his relationship with his lover Janet Arredondo.

In the recording, the officers are heard asking Pellot back and forth about what happened that night.

Throughout the afternoon, Laredo Police Sergeant Luis Mata continued to testify on day six of the trial; however, the state showed pictures of the refrigerator and its contents, along with vials of medicine.

Other evidence included the life insurance policies and a CD of a jailhouse call.

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