MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Joe Caronna is accused of killing his wife, Tina, in 2008. The defense claims investigators did a poor job collecting evidence at the crime scene. Prosecutors say Joe was a controlling cheater who wanted his wife dead.
Half a dozen family members and friends took the stand on Wednesday; some broke down in tears and others couldn't remember details about what they told police the day Tina Caronna's body was discovered.
The defense recognized the couple had a rocky 15 year marriage. "Did they have a perfect life? No. Had there been infidelity? Yeah. Did they work through it? Yeah," said Joe Caronna’s defense attorney, Rusty White, during his opening statement to the jury.
Her body was found in the backseat of the couple's truck. The prosecution says Joe killed his wife because she knew too much of his "secret life." First she found out about an affair and then his financial woes.
"An affair that the defendant not only planned on continuing but did continue after Tina died," said prosecuting attorney Danielle McCollum. "The other lie he was living was a financial one. He'd be stealing and defrauding several of his clients for several years." Joe Caronna was an investment agent.
The defense claims the Bartlett Police wrongly charged Joe with first degree murder.
"You're going to hear evidence that was not tested,” White told the jury. "You'll hear details that the crime scene was not properly run."
The defense attorney says the "details" will prove his client is innocent.
"You remember saying he was a basket case?” White asked Tina’s friend, Cindy Cox, as she took the stand. “I do not remember,” she responded. “You said earlier he was a basket case,” White asked again about Cox’s statement to Bartlett Police in 2008. “I do not remember the exact words that I used,” said Cox.
Tina's friends and family described her as an outgoing and loving wife. The jurors, mostly women, will ultimately decide if Tina's husband is to blame for her murder. Three more witnesses will take the stand Thursday.