| Knoxville News Sentinel
Investigative journalist Jamie Satterfield recaps Day 1 of the Joel Guy Jr. trial
Joel Guy is accused of killing his parents in 2016. Jamie Satterfield, investigative reporter with KnoxNews, gives a recap of Day 1.
Four years after prosecutors say he murdered his parents, Joel Guy Jr. is still sending handwritten court filings trying to claim money from their life insurance policies.
Prosecutors Leslie Nassios and Hector Sanchez launched their case Monday with the revelation the Guys’ son shared a Thanksgiving meal with them — while tucked in his backpack was a detailed plan on how he would kill them and how much he stood to gain.
“Her life insurance — $500,000 possibly after the double indemnity,” he wrote. “With him missing/dead, I get the whole thing.”
Even now, while standing trial on charges he savagely attacked his parents with knives, dismembered their bodies and tried to dissolve their bones in November 2016, Guy is still laying claim to those insurance benefits, Knox News has learned.
Guy, 32, is being tried this week in Knox County Criminal Court on charges, including first-degree murder, in the slayings inside their Hardin Valley home of Joel Guy Sr., 61, and Lisa Guy, 55.
Money was his motive, the slaying notes made clear. His parents, testimony has shown, were tired of paying his bills and planned to break the news to him over the holidays in 2016. He was then a 28-year-old unemployed Louisiana State University student.
Guy’s defense team has not challenged the identification of Guy’s handwriting in the slaying notes the Knox County Sheriff’s Office found in a backpack in a guest bedroom where he’d been sleeping during the Thanksgiving 2016 holiday weekend.
The notes included a balance sheet of his parents’ assets and insurance policies. He cited details about his mother’s life insurance policy, which was structured so that her son and her husband would split the proceeds if she died first. If her husband died first, however, her son would be the sole beneficiary.
Guy is now refusing to give up his claim to his mother’s life insurance benefits, according to records filed in U.S. District Court.
“I hereby assert the continuing validity of my claims to the insurance proceeds … totaling $696,666.68 plus applicable interest,” Guy wrote in a handwritten response penned while jailed in the slaying case.
Judge to decide insurance proceeds
Attorneys for Standard Life Insurance aren’t disputing the firm owes someone that amount in the wake of Lisa Guy’s death, court records show.
The firm just doesn’t want to decide who should get it. Attorney James Friauf, who represents Guy’s sisters, has filed a claim on their behalf to block their brother from profiting from their parents’ deaths.
“Guy, Jr. is solely responsible for the intentional death of Guy, Sr.,” Friauf wrote. “Accordingly, pursuant to Tennessee’s ‘Slayer Statute,’ and public policy, Guy, Jr., is precluded from recovering the one-third share of the benefits payable as a result of Guy, Sr.’s death.”
Guy has countered in another handwritten filing that until he’s convicted and exhausted all his appeals, the so-called “Slayer Rule” – which forbids killers from profiteering from their crimes – doesn’t apply.
He says the money should be held in a fund until he’s either convicted, “found not guilty” or “the murder charges against me in Knox County Criminal Court are dismissed.”
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer has allowed Standard Life Insurance to deposit the money with the court. Greer will later decide who is entitled to receive it.
Slayings to-do list
Guy isn’t admitting he killed his parents, but he isn’t mounting an affirmative defense in this week’s trial. His attorneys, former Knox County Public Defender Mark Stephens and current Assistant Public Defenders John Halstead and Jonathan Harwell, aren’t asking many questions.
Those handwritten notes – backed up, Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jeremy McCord told jurors in criminal court Tuesday, by crime scene evidence – are the reason why.
“Get killing knives – quiet – multiple,” read the first entry.
There were at least four knives found inside the couple’s home.
“Get sledgehammer – crush bones,” read the second.
A sledgehammer was found on a table.
“Get rid of bodies inside house … Get plastic bin for denaturation process,” the entries continued.
McCord testified he found two plastic bins with “what appears to be body parts” in the master bathroom.
“Clean up mess from him before she gets home … Kill her with knife … Place her in the shower. Turn on hot water and point at her to get rid of forensics. Remove her clothes and take them with me for disposal,” the notes continued.
Knox County Sheriff’s Office Forensics Unit personnel found a hose connected to the shower head in the master bathroom. A pile of bloody clothes was found on a stairway landing where authorities believe Lisa Guy was killed. Her head was found boiling in a pot of liquid on the stove in the kitchen.
Nassios told jurors Joel Guy Sr. sustained 42 wounds in the attack. His wife of 31 years suffered 31.
Judge Steve Sword is presiding over the trial, which is expected to wrap up by week’s end.
Email Jamie Satterfield at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jamiescoop. If you enjoy Jamie’s coverage, support strong local journalism by subscribing for full access to all our content on every platform.