Day 3: 2016 Thanksgiving double-murder trial continues, Joel Guy Jr. accused of dismembering parents

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Judge Steve Sword asked the jury to be prepared to start deliberation as early as Thursday.

He said there is not a specific time as to when the state may rest their case, but wanted jurors to begin planning for the days ahead as it was likely the state is nearing the end.

Court resumes Thursday at 9 a.m.

Medical Examiner: “Complicated and unusual crime scene”

The most graphic part of the trial ended Wednesday’s testimony, as the jury was presented with the autopsy photos and explanation from the Medical Examiner.

Dr. Amy Hawes, who worked with the Knox County Regional Forensic Center in 2016, took the jury back to November 2016 when her team arrived to the Goldenview Lane house.

“It was warm inside the home, it felt like it got warmer as we were there. We spent more time in the upstairs area of the home,” said Hawes.

She and the team were given a rundown of what to expect before going inside.

“There were multiple rooms in the home that seemed to be involved as part of the crime scene. there were many chemicals scattered in areas throughout the home. there were blood spots in different areas throughout the home. There were also various body parts throughout the home.”

Dr. Amy Hawes, Medical Examiner

Hawes said there was a slight odor of decomposition, but mostly chemical. Transporting the remains was challenging, she said, because they were not only dismembered, but chemicals broke them down.

“Our overall impression was that this was a very complicated and unusual crime scene,” said Hawes.

One of the challenging parts, according to Hawes, was transporting the plastic containers with the Guy Sr. and Lisa’s dismembered body parts.

The plastic containers filled with chemicals, used to dissolve the dismembered remains began to warp the edges of the plastic. Hawes said her team was concerned if they moved the containers as-is they would break.

“Draining out the fluid from the large containers that would allow us to see what was in the containers prior to moving them, that would preclude us from moving the containers full…” said Hawes.

They chose to drain the bins of the chemical, to better asses what was inside. Once the fluid was removed from the containers, they proceeded to remove the body parts.

Guy Sr. had 34 sharp force injuries, stabs or cuts, to his back, extending from his shoulder down to his buttocks. Hawes noted it was difficult to tell what were stab wounds, or part of the dismemberment process.

“His hands were the only part of the dismembered remains that were basically still in tact. The skin of the hands had not been treated with any chemicals,” said Hawes.

Guy Sr.’s hands were found on the 2nd floor of the home. Lead Investigator Jeremy McCord testified Tuesday about seeing them for the first time describing it as “heart wrenching.”

December 2016 jail call: “He was my best friend”

A longtime friend of Guy Jr. was called as witness to authenticate a phone call from Guy Jr. in December 2016.

Michael McCracken, met Guy Jr. in high school at Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. They were roommates in high school and went on to be roommates at LSU.

McCracken testified that, during that time, Guy Jr. was his “best friend.”

Joel Michael Guy Jr. smiles at his attorney Knox County Assistant Public Defender John Halstead, not pictured, during his trial in Knox County Criminal Court on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. (Brianna Paciorka / News Sentinel pool)

Introduced during this trial, the state played portions of a phone call Guy Jr. made from jail. That, and testimony from McCracken, gave insight into who Guy Jr. was before he was accused of murdering his parents.

A transcript is provided with the call, projected onto a screen in the courtroom. Part of that conversation:

“I think you should probably, just sort of, consider me dead and move on with your life. I’m not going to initiate anymore contact with you…” said McCracken, “I genuinely want you to be happy.”

McCracken: “You have been my best friend for my entire adult life… don’t know that that would ever change regardless of what you did”

Guy Jr.: “I mean it wasn’t me… it was…” Sentence is cut-off by automatic reminder: One minute remaining.

McCracken: “I mean I’m not totally surprised, uhm, I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I’m all of that inside I am angry and lost and confused and disappointed and upset and mourning you like you’re dead even though I’m talking to you on the phone and I don’t– it’s taking everything I have to process and maintain my sanity.”

Guy Jr.: “I think about you all the time. You were the only good thing in my life.”

McCracken described Guy Jr. as isolated, without many friends, and not close to his family. He said in 10 years of friendship, he never met Guy Sr. and only met Lisa once.

Over the course of a decade, McCracken said he never saw Guy Jr. with a paying job, only unpaid internships. His parents paid for his car, tuition, bills, and utilities.

McCracken said it was known that Guy Jr. would go to Thanksgiving with his family every year and knew that he was going to do the same in 2016.

He said Guy Jr. spent “days at a time” in his room, alone, on the computer.

Prosecutor Leslie Nassios asked McCracken if he thought it was a choice by Guy Jr. to keep himself isolated, he said it was.

During his cross examination, the line of questioning alluded to Guy Jr.’s choices, or lack thereof to distance himself from his family.

Defense: “You described Joel as being socially awkward, is that accurate?”

McCracken: “Yes.”

In response, Nassios objected to the defense’s allusion that Guy Jr. was isolated by his family.

“To construe this as somebody was abandoned by his family is a real stretch,” she said.

Without straying from “the reason they are here” Nassios asked McCracken a few questions about his knowledge of Guy Jr.’s relationship with his family, and he was dismissed.

Guy Jr.’s apartment in Baton Rouge where he was arrested in November 2016. (WATE File)

Investigation in Louisiana, Guy Jr.’s arrest

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Scott Henning, who was present for Guy Jr.’s arrest, walked the jury through photos taken of Guy Jr. once in custody, as well as photos of his vehicle that was impounded.

Henning described the injuries to Guy Jr.’s hand as “slice marks.” There was also bruising to his back and scratches on the palms of his hands.

In the photos, Guy Jr. is dressed in a white t-shirt and has injuries to his hands and back. The photos were taken on November 29th, 2016 — three days after investigators believe Guy Sr. and Lisa were murdered.

Security footage shows Guy Jr. at a store in Louisiana.

Henning also describes what was found in Guy Jr.’s vehicle. Many of the items correlate to a notebook found in a backpack, found by investigators in the room Guy Jr. stayed in when he was visiting his parents in their West Knoxville home.

The notebook contains handwritten plans for a murder, including what needed to be purchased.

In the trunk of the car, Henning says, investigators found a “meat grinder,” that based on the notebook details, would have been used to grind body parts of Guy Sr. and Lisa.

Also in the vehicle, a container of gasoline and a receipt from a Knoxville Walmart.

For live updates follow 6 On Your Side Reporter Madisen Keavy on Twitter.

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