Mom becomes key witness in own murder case

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By Kim Novak

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A mother became the key witness in her own murder trial after she was killed by her husband in September 2020.

Maria Eugenia Muñoz, 31, died in September 2020 and she initially appeared to have taken her own life after overdosing on pills.

However, it was later deemed that she had been killed by her husband, Joel Pellot, who worked as a nurse anesthetist, all thanks to Muñoz's own words from beyond the grave.

The mother, who shared two young sons with Pellot, ended up becoming a key part of testimony at her own murder trial thanks to her diary entries, which helped convince a jury that she'd been killed by her husband, who ended up being convicted last March.

Muñoz's story is part of a new 48 Hours investigation showing how she ended up helping to catch her own killer from beyond the grave.

Pellot had called 911 in the early hours of September 22, 2020, claiming that he'd found his wife of 10 years unresponsive and believed she'd overdosed on pills.

Police immediately became suspicious of Pellot after attending the scene, due to his strange behavior and his explanation of what happened leading up to Muñoz's death.

They noted that Pellot was sweating profusely and was unable to answer simple questions about how and when he found his wife, and a syringe wrapper and needle catheter were found on the stairs in their home.

The investigation revealed that Pellot had been seeing a woman from work, Janet Arredondo, for two years and had been living with her at the time of Muñoz's death, and he told police that his wife had known about the relationship "for a long while".

Suicide was ruled out as a cause of death as, according to Muñoz's post-mortem, no pill residue was found in her stomach but the medical examiner did discover a tiny puncture mark in her right elbow crease.

It was determined that Muñoz had died of mixed drug intoxication, but ruled out that she'd taken her own life.

Muñoz's own words also ended up being key evidence, after page after page of her journal entries were submitted, showing she did not have any suicidal thoughts.

The CBS show revealed, as reported by the New York Post, that Muñoz had in fact been looking forward to moving on with her life after the man that she had deeply loved had been unfaithful.

Friends had also corroborated the belief that Muñoz had not been suicidal at the time of her death, with a diary entry written the day before stating: "What is it that I want? #1 Move forward."

Pellot’s former boss, anesthesiologist Dr. John Huntsinger, had also contacted police with his suspicions after Muñoz's autopsy results were released, urging investigators to do a full toxicology screening.

It was then revealed, once the results came back around four months later, that Muñoz had died from a fatal combination of morphine, Demerol, Versed, propofol, ketamine, lidocaine, and Narcan - all of which are routinely used in surgery and drugs which a nurse anesthetist such as Pellot would have access to.

It was also found that there was enough Propofol - which is only administered by injection - in Muñoz's system that it would have caused her to stop breathing, according to Huntsinger and the toxicology report.

Pellot's mistress, Arredondo, also claimed it was one of the drugs Pellot would often take home from work to use recreationally, according to the 48 Hours report.

Prosecutors believe that Pellot had first spiked Muñoz's drink with some of the drugs in order to sedate her, before injecting her with Propofol once they started to take effect, waiting until it was too late for medics to resuscitate her before calling 911.

The court also heard that Muñoz had argued with Pellot days before her death after she saw his car parked outside Arredondo's house, leading Pellot to berate her, curse at her, and smash the windshield by punching it.

The following morning, Muñoz had texted Pellot about hiring a divorce lawyer, to which he replied: "We can do this with minimal lawyer intervention. It’s too much money."

He later sent her an email asking to sit down and talk calmly and have a "heart-to-heart", adding: "I am so sad I am hurting inside."

The pair had agreed to meet on Monday night, with Muñoz dying early the following morning.

Following an eight-day trial in which his defense attorneys had pushed for a five-year sentence according to KGNS, Pellot was sentenced to life in prison for murder, as well as 10 years for tampering with evidence, and a $10,000 fine.

Featured image credit: Oksana Nazarchuk M/Getty Images

Mom becomes key witness in own murder case

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

A mother became the key witness in her own murder trial after she was killed by her husband in September 2020.

Maria Eugenia Muñoz, 31, died in September 2020 and she initially appeared to have taken her own life after overdosing on pills.

However, it was later deemed that she had been killed by her husband, Joel Pellot, who worked as a nurse anesthetist, all thanks to Muñoz's own words from beyond the grave.

The mother, who shared two young sons with Pellot, ended up becoming a key part of testimony at her own murder trial thanks to her diary entries, which helped convince a jury that she'd been killed by her husband, who ended up being convicted last March.

Muñoz's story is part of a new 48 Hours investigation showing how she ended up helping to catch her own killer from beyond the grave.

Pellot had called 911 in the early hours of September 22, 2020, claiming that he'd found his wife of 10 years unresponsive and believed she'd overdosed on pills.

Police immediately became suspicious of Pellot after attending the scene, due to his strange behavior and his explanation of what happened leading up to Muñoz's death.

They noted that Pellot was sweating profusely and was unable to answer simple questions about how and when he found his wife, and a syringe wrapper and needle catheter were found on the stairs in their home.

The investigation revealed that Pellot had been seeing a woman from work, Janet Arredondo, for two years and had been living with her at the time of Muñoz's death, and he told police that his wife had known about the relationship "for a long while".

Suicide was ruled out as a cause of death as, according to Muñoz's post-mortem, no pill residue was found in her stomach but the medical examiner did discover a tiny puncture mark in her right elbow crease.

It was determined that Muñoz had died of mixed drug intoxication, but ruled out that she'd taken her own life.

Muñoz's own words also ended up being key evidence, after page after page of her journal entries were submitted, showing she did not have any suicidal thoughts.

The CBS show revealed, as reported by the New York Post, that Muñoz had in fact been looking forward to moving on with her life after the man that she had deeply loved had been unfaithful.

Friends had also corroborated the belief that Muñoz had not been suicidal at the time of her death, with a diary entry written the day before stating: "What is it that I want? #1 Move forward."

Pellot’s former boss, anesthesiologist Dr. John Huntsinger, had also contacted police with his suspicions after Muñoz's autopsy results were released, urging investigators to do a full toxicology screening.

It was then revealed, once the results came back around four months later, that Muñoz had died from a fatal combination of morphine, Demerol, Versed, propofol, ketamine, lidocaine, and Narcan - all of which are routinely used in surgery and drugs which a nurse anesthetist such as Pellot would have access to.

It was also found that there was enough Propofol - which is only administered by injection - in Muñoz's system that it would have caused her to stop breathing, according to Huntsinger and the toxicology report.

Pellot's mistress, Arredondo, also claimed it was one of the drugs Pellot would often take home from work to use recreationally, according to the 48 Hours report.

Prosecutors believe that Pellot had first spiked Muñoz's drink with some of the drugs in order to sedate her, before injecting her with Propofol once they started to take effect, waiting until it was too late for medics to resuscitate her before calling 911.

The court also heard that Muñoz had argued with Pellot days before her death after she saw his car parked outside Arredondo's house, leading Pellot to berate her, curse at her, and smash the windshield by punching it.

The following morning, Muñoz had texted Pellot about hiring a divorce lawyer, to which he replied: "We can do this with minimal lawyer intervention. It’s too much money."

He later sent her an email asking to sit down and talk calmly and have a "heart-to-heart", adding: "I am so sad I am hurting inside."

The pair had agreed to meet on Monday night, with Muñoz dying early the following morning.

Following an eight-day trial in which his defense attorneys had pushed for a five-year sentence according to KGNS, Pellot was sentenced to life in prison for murder, as well as 10 years for tampering with evidence, and a $10,000 fine.

Featured image credit: Oksana Nazarchuk M/Getty Images