Is He Faking It? Shaking Prisoner Accused of Pretending to Be Ill to Delay Murder Sentencing

A few days earlier, Joseph Merlino, 31, appeared fine as he gave a jailhouse interview ahead of sentencing for his wife's murder.

A convicted killer in Virginia was seen shaking and twitching as he was wheeled into court to be sentenced for murdering his ex-girlfriend.

But was he faking it? 

Deputies say 31-year-old Joseph Merlino showed no sign of being unwell until 90 minutes before his sentence was due to be handed down on Monday. 

A few days earlier, he looked healthy during a jailhouse interview with TV reporter Allison Mechanic of WTKR. 

“He appeared to be in good spirits,” Mechanic told Inside Edition of Merlino. “He stood the whole time and that was an hour interview. Even though there was a bench there, he decided he was going to stand.”

But days later, a wheelchair had to be used to transport Merlino to the courtroom.

“His eyes are closed, his mouth is open, it looks like he might be foaming from the mouth,” Mechanic said. 

A doctor was brought in to examine Merlino. “They were basically asking, 'Are these symptoms genuine? Is he just putting on a show? Is he trying to delay this?' And the doctor basically said that Joseph Merlino has no physical condition that could have brought these symptoms on, but they did say it could be stress-related,” Mechanic said. 

Merlino was found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend by injecting her with cyanide on Valentine’s Day 2017. 

Merlino's sentencing was delayed until next week as his condition is monitored.