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Man charged with murdering his parents: Judge can impose death on me if I'm convicted

Joel Guy Jr. is accused of killing Joel Guy Sr. and Lisa Guy and cutting up their bodies in their West Knox County home.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Since the state of Tennessee isn't seeking it, the man accused of murdering and cutting up his parents' bodies in 2016 is giving a Knox County Criminal Court judge permission to impose the death penalty if he's convicted of murder this fall.

Joel M. Guy Jr., 32, filed his handwritten motion Tuesday in Criminal Court. He's being held in the Knox County jail in the bowels of the City County Building.

Defense attorneys -- Guy has a team of veteran lawyers who have handled dozens of murder cases through the decades -- declined comment Thursday.

So far his motion hasn't been put on the docket for Judge Steve Sword to hear.

Credit: WBIR
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword.

Jury selection is set for Thursday, Sept. 24. Testimony is expected to start Monday, Sept. 28, and Court TV may broadcast the case.

Knox County prosecutors have chosen not to seek the death penalty against Guy at trial despite the gruesome, violent nature of the crimes. When they do seek death, a separate hearing is held after the jury convicts the defendant of first-degree murder.

Guy is considered highly intelligent. The defense isn't trying to show that he suffers from any mental defect or impairment.

Credit: WBIR
Joel Guy Jr. strides from courtroom Thursday after pre-trial hearing. He's charged with murdering his parents and cutting up their corpses.

As it stands, if he's convicted of first-degree murder he faces an automatic term of life in prison.

Guy is accused of plotting to kill parents Joel Guy Sr. and Lisa Guy in November 2016 because they were going to stop giving him financial support. The then 28-year-old lived in an apartment with just his dog in Baton Rouge, La. He'd been attending school there.

According to Guy's motion, state law and the rules of criminal procedure allow him to waive the required death notice if the state doesn't file it.

The waiver isn't expressly permitted or forbidden, he writes.

"In the event that I am eventually found guilty of first-degree murder, I contend that the waiver above, if permitted by the court, would free the court to sentence me to death, imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole, or imprisonment for life, in spite of the district attorney general's failure to satisfy the notice requirements..."

To be clear, Guy continues, he's not admitting to murder.

Credit: WBIR
The Guy home on Nov. 28, 2016.

Deputies found the victims' parents bodies Nov. 28, 2016, cut up and placed in bins in the bathroom, on the floor of the Guys' Goldenview Lane home and in a pot on the kitchen stove.

They didn't find Guy.

It appeared the killer had still been at work after the killings when he suddenly stopped and left the home, records show.

Prosecutor Leslie Nassios has said Guy drove back to Baton Rouge that weekend to get treatment for cuts to his hands.

Guy had spent the Thanksgiving holiday with his parents. Prosecutors believe he killed them Saturday and then went to area stores to buy materials to dispose of them.

A notebook found in the Goldenview Lane house suggests he'd been planning the crimes, Nassios has said.

Jurors will not see many crime scene photos taken by authorities in the house because they are so graphic.