Virginia Beach man found guilty of poisoning wife with cyanide ends prison hunger strike after 79 days

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The man convicted of poisoning his wife to death with cyanide has ended his hunger strike.

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office said Joseph Merlino started his hunger strike on April 16 and ended it on the 4th of July.

He was offered breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and refused to eat, officials said. He spoke with News 3 from behind bars and said, “There is a completely reasonable reason as to why I am not eating now at this point…This is just the surface of the iceberg, there’s a huge development on the bottom.”

A judge previously ruled he could not be force-fed.

He was on suicide watch during the strike and officials said someone is considered on hunger strike when they decline three consecutive meals.

For the holiday inmates were served barbecue chicken, potato salad, baked beans, cornbread, cake and a nutritional shake on July 4 when Merlino ended the strike.

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