Jury finds Haron Joyner guilty of intentional homicide

Haron Joyner returns to the courtroom for his verdict Tuesday at the La Crosse County Courthouse. Joyner was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide for stabbing his wife, Jessica Joyner, to death. Joyner will be sentenced on Feb. 7.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune

A La Crosse man faces life in prison after a jury Tuesday found he intentionally murdered his wife during an argument early this year.

Haron Joyner, 36, showed no reaction at the verdict to first-degree intentional homicide, reached in 25 minutes during a two-day trial in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Prosecutors argued Joyner acted with the intent to kill late March 6 when he stabbed his 29-year-old wife, Jessica, in the kitchen of the family’s apartment at 1320 S. Fifth Ave. during an excessive act of domestic violence meant to control.

“Jessica Joyner died a horrible death,” District Attorney Tim Gruenke told jurors in his closing argument. “Her children were around her screaming and crying.”

Joyner’s attorney argued he acted recklessly but did not mean to kill his wife and asked the panel to consider a lesser charge of first-degree reckless homicide. Joyner did not testify, and his attorney presented no witnesses.

On cellphone video captured by Jessica in the moments before the stabbing, Joyner approached her in the kitchen of the family’s apartment while five children younger than 12 looked on.

“Ready?” he asked. “Ready?”

Then “f—- you, f—- you, f—- you,” Haron Joyner said as he swung a folding knife into her temple, arm and neck, the fatal wound that severed her jugular vein and carotid artery.

“He said, ‘Ready? Ready?’ That, ladies and gentlemen, is intent,” Gruenke told jurors. “As she was dying, I wonder if she was hoping someone would find that cellphone video. I’m struck by the fact that Jessica became a very important witness in her own case.”

Jessica escaped the family’s apartment after the stabbing to the unit across the hall, where tenant Gabriele Volten heard a thud at her front door and a woman screaming about 11:15 p.m. Jessica collapsed into the unit when Volten turned the deadbolt.

“She grabbed me around my body and she was yelling that he was trying to kill her and she was bleeding out,” Volten testified. “The children all came in after Jessica. They were in panic.”

Volten’s daughter Maria Pozo found Jessica on the floor and Joyner watching from the doorway.

“He looked at me and said he just couldn’t take it anymore,” Pozo testified. “He turned around and walked away.”

Joyner called 911 to turn himself in at 11:51 p.m. outside the La Crosse County Jail but left before police arrived.

“I don’t know why this happened … it happened so fast,” he told a dispatcher.

Police arrested Joyner early the next morning when they found him inside a car parked in the 3600 block of South 29th Court.

Joyner denied harming his wife, repeatedly telling investigators he left the apartment during an argument.

“I never put my hands on females,” he said. “Never.”

He didn’t remember calling 911 and couldn’t explain blood on his clothing.

“What did you do to her?” La Crosse police Lt. Matt Malott asked.

“I can’t tell you something that I don’t know,” he said.

At trial, Joyner’s attorney argued the killing was an unplanned attack done in anger, but without thought, awareness and intent.

“What Haron did was criminally reckless,” attorney Michael Covey said. “I’m not asking you to excuse his actions. I’m asking you to convict him of a homicide that fits the facts of this case.”

Joyner did not stop his wife from fleeing after the stabbing or prevent efforts to try to save her life, Covey told jurors.

He also failed to seek and render aid, threatened a child’s life and left to smoke pot with friends while his wife was dying in a stranger’s apartment surrounded by five children, Gruenke said.

“For Jessica’s sake, I’m asking you to find him guilty of first-degree intentional homicide and make him answer for the crime he committed,” Gruenke told jurors. “You can’t stab at someone’s head and say you’re not thinking.”

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(37) comments

newsjunky

the reporting in this case has disappointed me. A horrific crime was committed but let's be accurate and fair in our reporting. One child said he stabbed her 6 or 7 times, one child said 1 time and one child said 3....so you publish what sounds the worst (7)? And state it as though it were proven fact. And never clarify that coroner stated it was 3. Did you hear him say "ready, ready" on the video. Maybe you should have said "it appears he said......"as the video is difficult to understand. You've reported he was arrested the next day, or early the next day....why not be specific and state he was arrested 2 hrs later, or are we trying to make it seems as bad as possible? And there was no proof that he was smoking pot. Only 1 of the children claimed he threatened a child....something else that wasn't proven in court. Should it change to outcome of the trial? Maybe not. Does he deserve to be punished for the horrific crime he committed? Absolutely! I'm simply addressing the fact that the media needs to be careful in their reporting. The job of the media is to report the facts accurately, not to try and influence public opinion by the way you word your information. PLEASE be more careful so you can continue to be a news source I can trust. :)

AnneJungen Staff
AnneJungen

Q/S: “so you publish what sounds the worst (7)? And state it as though it were proven fact.”

A: No, we reported Jessica was stabbed three times.
From Wednesday’s article: Then “f—- you, f—- you, f—- you,” Haron Joyner said as he swung a folding knife into her temple, arm and neck, the fatal wound that severed her jugular vein and carotid artery.”
And from Tuesday’s article: “Jessica, 29, sustained stab wounds to her left temple and left arm and a fatal wound to her neck that severed her jugular vein and carotid artery, Dane County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Agnieszka Rogalska testified.”
Q/S: “. And never clarify that coroner stated it was 3.”
A: See quoted testimony above.
Q/S: “Did you hear him say "ready, ready" on the video. Maybe you should have said "it appears he said......"as the video is difficult to understand.”
A: The video is shaky. His words are clear.
Q/S: “You've reported he was arrested the next day, or early the next day....why not be specific and state he was arrested 2 hrs later, or are we trying to make it seems as bad as possible?”
A: Both are accurate.
Q/S: “And there was no proof that he was smoking pot.”
A: No “proof,” but testimony from police.
Q/S: “Only 1 of the children claimed he threatened a child....something else that wasn't proven in court.”
A: One is enough. He wasn’t charged with a threat.

Clarification

What you "hang 'em high" types don't get is that if you allow the death penalty, sooner or later you will execute the wrong person. Sure, this guy is 100% guilty...but so were others freed from death row when they found out their 100% was not true. How many innocent people are you willing to kill so you can kill this guy?

yourewrong

With the additional technology/DNA testing available today, it's very unlikely an innocent person would end up on death row

Clarification

Errors happen. What percentage of innocent people being killed are you willing to accept?

tower

JT, what a naive idea. Kind of like all the VC who got killed in Vietnam. How well did that work? They just keep coming.

JT

HuH ??? Tower, How do you simulate The VC & This Case??? Did you just flip out or what??

tower

Yup Mark and apparently having one isn't either.

superman

Look for an offical apology in the coming days, from City Hall over the mistreatment of this criminal...

newsjunky

???.....further explanation please.....

HUH

kinda like his apology for killing his wife. In front of his kids?

JT

I feel that the Police did their job so well that the D.A. didn't even have to show up in court !! Great Work LCPD !!! NOW HORNE........DO YOUR job and give him the maximum penalty by Wisconsin Law !!!

tower

If it is such a crime deterrent mark why does TX, LA have such high murder rates? They execute more than any other states.

JT

What it does do is stop repeat offenders.

markeugene

Very good point, JT. Amen to that.

Clarification

And kill a few innocent ones along the way. Oops, we killed the wrong guy. Is that OK with you?

markeugene

Tower, no death penalty is no deterrent.

Clarification

"If it is such a crime deterrent mark why does TX, LA have such high murder rates? They execute more than any other states." Try reading it again.

markeugene

Clarification: "The fact that some states or countries which do not use the death penalty have lower murder rates than jurisdictions which do is not evidence of the failure of deterrence. States with high murder rates would have even higher rates if they did not use the death penalty." http://deathpenaltycurriculum.org/student/c/about/arguments/argument1a.htm

markeugene

Tower: "The fact that some states or countries which do not use the death penalty have lower murder rates than jurisdictions which do is not evidence of the failure of deterrence. States with high murder rates would have even higher rates if they did not use the death penalty." http://deathpenaltycurriculum.org/student/c/about/arguments/argument1a.htm

peeg

did anyone else notice how "intelligent" he looked with his studiest glasses on...i don't know, but i think they made him look innocent...oh and the moon is made out of cheese

markeugene

And the ill-fitting, wrinkled, long-sleeved dress shirt and tie.

frenchguy

What is it again??? approximately 3% of La Crosse population and 40% of jail population? Please remind me.

BichonFrise

Wow that was scheduled for 3 day trial....only took 24 hours. Hopefully the kids will live with other family members, I hope they get some help with what they saw that awful night.

LaCrosseTaxPayer

Them darn cops picking on another outstanding black pillar of the community, that got arrested only because he was black!

spirit3

You win the award today for the dumbest thing to say.

triker

That was a short trial and a predictable outcome. Wonder what the future holds for the five kids who have lost both their parents? They are also victims of that killing.

YellowBee

Awesome the jury got it right, let's hope the Judge can!! 3 hots and a cot for the rest of miserable LIFE!![tongue][tongue][tongue][tongue]

markeugene

If Wisconsin had capital punishment we wouldn't have to pay for his imprisonment. A life for a life.

Clarification

Until we kill the wrong person. How many innocent ones are you willing to kill to satisfy your need for revenge? Please look at the Innocence Project before you answer.

yourewrong

Well when there's video evidence, I think it's pretty safe to go ahead and safe some taxpayer money here

Clarification

The death penalty ends up costing more after years of appeals and court time.

RemoteEmployee

You'e not saving any money. Read: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty

markeugene

"The high cost of executions results directly from opposition to the death penalty [i.e. multiple appeals, etc.]." http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/detail/the-next-time-someone-says-the-death-penalty-costs-more-than-life-in-prison-show-them-this-article

markeugene

Did you read the account of the trial before replying? Joyner brutally murdered - stabbed to death - his wife in front of their five young children. Despite his lying denials and his attorney's false argument that he "did not mean to kill her," he was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide. To execute him would be justice, not revenge - and a crime deterrent.

RemoteEmployee

The death penalty costs more than a life sentence: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty

markeugene

"The high cost of executions results directly from opposition to the death penalty [i.e. multiple appeals, etc.]." http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/detail/the-next-time-someone-says-the-death-penalty-costs-more-than-life-in-prison-show-them-this-article

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