Man convicted of killing woman ends 79-day hunger strike

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A man convicted of fatally poisoning his ex-girlfriend has ended his 79-day hunger strike.

The Virginian-Pilot reports 30-year-old Joseph Merlino III broke his fast on July Fourth with a special holiday meal that was served to all inmates. Court documents say Merlino had expressed fears that someone was trying to poison him, though jail staff said the reasoning behind his hunger strike kept changing.

Merlino began refusing meals in April, and a judge ruled he couldn't be force-fed. Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kathy Hieatt says Merlino is no longer on medical observation. She says Merlino's housing still is being determined, with the goal of returning him to general population.

Merlino was convicted last month of injecting 35-year-old Ellie Tran with a fatal dose of cyanide on Valentine's Day 2017.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot,

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