Man accused of attacking, killing wife on Valentine’s Day in court

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Joseph Merlino III is scheduled to appear in a Virginia Beach courtroom Friday afternoon.

Merlino, 29, of  Warner Hall Drive, is facing a second degree murder charge after police say he assault his estranged wife, Ellie Tran, Tuesday evening. Police say Tran died at the hospital the following day.

Hours after her death, court documents say Merlino was arrested in Lunenburg, Virginia which is a more than two hour drive from Virginia Beach.

Court documents say Merlino did not use a firearm in the offense.

Merlino was denied bail and is being held at the Virginia Beach City Jail.

On Thursday, a large police presence including a swat team, hazmat crews and the Virginia Beach Fire Department were seen outside of Merlino's home.

Neighbors told News 3 they were evacuated from their home for a hazardous chemical found inside Merlino's home. Police have not said whether or not anything hazardous was found or taken from the home. Their search of the home continued on Friday.

News 3 will be in the courtroom for Merlino's arraignment.

Previous coverage:

“She was my piece of gold” said Mom of murdered Virginia Beach daughter

Virginia Beach man arrested in wife’s Valentine’s Day murder