MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A Cordova man who suffocated his wife and stuffed her body in their truck will spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors called Joe Caronna a lying, thieving killer and the jury agreed.
The jury deliberated less than two hours Thursday afternoon. Tina Caronna's family was overjoyed when they heard the guilty verdict. They say Tina can finally rest in peace.
The prosecution went on the attack during closing arguments.
"He had plenty of time to think about killing his wife. All he had to do within those first 4 minutes is stop! And she could've lived,” said prosecuting attorney Tom Henderson.
The defense painted Joe Caronna as the victim of a botched Bartlett Police investigation.
"We'll probably never know who really did kill her but Joe Caronna did not kill his wife,” said Joe Caronna’s defense attorney Rusty White.
But jurors didn't buy that theory and found Caronna guilty of First Degree Murder.
"It was a little freaky to have such a circumstantial case come back so quickly,” said another prosecutor, Karen Cook. “It was a long week but I'm very pleased with the verdict.”
Tina's family shed tears and hugs after hearing the guilty verdict.
“I'm happy, I can't explain how I feel really,” said Tina’s son Todd Gray.
"Thank you lord! Hallelujah! That's what I wanted to shout out in the courtroom,” said Tina’s mother Clara Murphy.
Joe Caronna strangled and suffocated his wife in October 2008. He stuffed her in the back seat of their Chevy Avalanche and left the truck parked in Bartlett. Police found her body a couple days after she disappeared. Prosecutors said he did it because she knew too much about his affairs and his financial trouble. Four years later and 8 days of trial, Tina's family says justice was served.
"It's a good relief to know that he's guilty,” said Gray. “I feel like it's been lifted off our shoulders."
But this guilty verdict will never bring Tina Caronna back.
"I miss her everyday but someday I'll get to see her again,” said Murphy as she wipes tears from her cheek. “She was loved by so many people. She had all these people here; they loved her (cries), he didn't have to kill her."
"I love her. I always will. I'll miss her,” said Gray.
We tried to talk to Joe Caronna's lawyers, but they left quickly after the verdict. They've already filed a motion for a new trial. A judge will hear that at the end on November 30th.