When 31-year-old Maria Eugenia Muñoz was found dead inside her own Laredo, Texas, home in the early hours of September 22, 2020, it honestly left the entire nation baffled to its very core. That’s because this young mother of two’s cause of death was mixed drug intoxication, as explored in CBS’ ’48 Hours: The Journals of Maria Muñoz,’ and it later came to light that it was administered. Her killer was sadly none other than her estranged husband, Joel Pellot — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about him as well as his current standing, we’ve got all the details for you.
Who is Joel Pellot?
It was reportedly back around the late 2000s when Joel came across Maria for the first time in her homeland of Puerto Rico by sheer chance, only for them to soon fall head over heels in love. The truth is that while there was a decade-long age gap between this duo, they were able to deeply connect over their innate desire to help others through their profession as registered nurses. He was already an established nurse anesthetist at the time, whereas she was studying, but she evolved into a stay-at-home spouse once they married, settled down, and welcomed two boys into their lives.
According to reports, Joel and Maria’s mutual plan was always for her to be a full-time mom until their kids were a bit older and in school before she was to work on activating her license in Texas. However, in between this period, he ostensibly began feeling bored, tired, as well as unmotivated, driving him to seek more than just pleasure outside of his marriage by starting to date again. That’s how he first met Janet Arredondo, who went on to become his girlfriend and the reason he moved out after Maria learned the truth — her mental health took a massive hit during this period.
Then came September 22, 2020, when Joel dialed 911 from his Laredo family home, claiming he’d found his estranged wife lying unresponsive in bed from likely overdosed on her prescription pills. However, he was elusive, nervous, and sweaty during his ensuing questioning, which resulted in it coming to light that although he was living with Janet, he’d come to meet Maria for a heart-to-heart. “We had sex,” he told officers, per bodycam footage. “I took a shower, then I thought she was like knocked out. I was like, ‘Hey, what’s up? What’s going on?’ and I didn’t think anything of it.”
Joel continued, “I just kept doing my thing. Then I go back upstairs and she’s just — oh god!” Though what’s strange is that apparently, only one side of the bed was unmade, plus the shower was dry. Other pieces of evidence around the home included a syringe wrapper, a needle, as well as IV equipment, but there were no traces of prescription clonazepam (Joel’s assumed drug) on or near Maria. Therefore, once it came to light she had a mix of seven different drugs in her system, most of which were only used for medical procedures or administered through an IV, he was arrested for murder.
Where is Joel Pellot Now?
During Joel’s court proceedings, the defense tried to assert his wife’s death was accidental after they’d done some drugs together to get high, and his ensuing actions were solely a result of panic. On the other hand, using Maria’s journal entries, the prosecutors painted a picture of him as a master manipulator who’d emotionally abused her throughout their marriage before killing her in a blind rage. They said she’d finally decided to focus on herself and asked for a divorce, so he killed her — according to a friend, she’d even been fearful for her life and had asked them to pray for her that night.
Prosecutors also contended Joel had likely slipped a mix of sedatives into Maria’s coffee before injecting her with other drugs, and then he waited until she’d positively passed away to call 911. With all this, following eight days of witness testimonies as well as less than two hours of jury deliberations, he was found guilty of one count each of murder and tampering with evidence. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison plus ten years; hence, today, the 45-year-old is incarcerated at the W. F. Ramsey Unit in Brazoria County, Florida, where he’s expected to remain until at least his parole eligibility date in March 2053.