Joyner gets life in prison for murdersPublished 12:01pm Thursday, February 14, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
ISLE OF WIGHT—An Isle of Wight County judge sentenced a Courtland man on Wednesday to four life terms for murdering his father and stepmother over money.
Joe Charles “Jay” Joyner, 37, entered an Alford plea, which means he didn’t admit to killing Joe and Sandra Joyner at their Carrsville home on April 26, but agreed there was enough evidence for a conviction. Much of that evidence came out during the hearing, including how Sandra Joyner was found beaten to death.
In exchange for the plea, the death penalty originally sought by Commonwealth Attorney Wayne Farmer was dropped.
Joe Joyner, a 2011 candidate for county supervisor in the Carrsville District, was found dead in the woods behind the couple’s Walters Highway home. His wife, 58, was beaten to death in the kitchen.
Wearing a dark blue suit, a clean-shaven Joyner talked only when spoken to by Judge Carl Eason Jr.
With 47 witnesses available for trial, Farmer said Joyner was getting significant financial help from his parents while living with his mother in Courtland.
Joyner was making $10 an hour for a timeshare sales job. His wife and children were living in Louisiana.
Joe Joyner, 62, had told witnesses he was done giving money to his son, said Farmer. Further, the couple planned on taking Joyner out of their wills so he wouldn’t run through the money.
Six days before the killings, Jay Joyner sent a text message to his wife about parental concerns, said Farmer.
He noted that Jay Joyner had expressed an interest in turkey hunting, which was considered unusual, according to a witness.
On the day of the murders, Jay Joyner sent a text to his wife that he had money for overdue child support, Farmer said. He also texted two alleged drug dealers, telling one he would get money for a debt and the other that he wanted to buy $300 worth of Percocet, a prescription painkiller.
Joyner killed his father first. He lured him to the scene by calling for a ride home after hunting.
Joyner fired a single shot from a Remington 1187 automatic to this father’s head. This kind of gun would not be used for hunting turkeys, Farmer said. The body was later found 30 feet from a trail.
Jay Joyner was later seen by witnesses at a bridge on the Blackwater River from where divers recovered the shotgun on April 28.
Jay Joyner then drove to a service station in North Carolina to meet one of his alleged drug connections, said Farmer.
Stopped by deputies in Currituck County, Jay Joyner was arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge for having pills in his vehicle without a prescription. He was later released.
Joe Joyner’s wallet was found in the vehicle, which Jay Joyner said his father left while hunting. Blood on the brim of a hat was also explained away by the hunting.
Joyner returned to his father’s home, where Sandra Joyner questioned him about his father’s whereabouts.
Calls for help in finding Joe Joyner were rejected. Farmer said his son told callers his father had been drinking and his stepmother was upset, and they’d work it out over the weekend.
The next day, when she didn’t come to work at Southampton Memorial Hospital, co-workers became concerned. They were worried because she always got to work on time.
Her body was found later that afternoon in one of the bathrooms by David Joyner, one of Joe Joyner’s brothers. Her face, beaten “unrecognizable,” was wrapped in blood-soaked towels, said Farmer. There were five bone-deep cuts and bruises from the beating.
Blood spatters in the kitchen indicated that’s where the murder occurred. Streaks of blood were found on floors of the hall and bathroom, Farmer said.
Evidence also showed Jay Joyner used the other bathroom to clean up, said Farmer.
Sonny Stallings, who was Joyner’s attorney, said he was aware of all the evidence presented by Farmer.
“I believe Joyner would have been found guilty, and there was a very real possibility he would have gotten the death penalty,” said Stallings.
“I’m glad there’s a finality,” said Farmer. “A trial could have gone years and years on appeal. There’s no doubt he’s guilty.”
“But even with the mountain of evidence, there’s always a risk to convince 12 people and that the death penalty is the appropriate outcome,” he continued.
Farmer met with the victims’ family and believes they are satisfied with the action.
“It brings closure to the matter,” Farmer said.
The family did not want to comment.