LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A grisly murder began playing out for a jury as testimony began in the trial of Joseph Banis Tuesday. Banis and his partner, Jeffrey Mundt, are accused of killing a man and burying his body in their basement in Old Louisville. Prosecutors said it was a brutal attack that included a knife, a gun and a sledgehammer.
"I didn't think it was for real," said Louisville Metro Police Detective Jon Lesher, "I thought he was making things up."
Lesher explained the story was so gruesome when he first heard it in June 2010 it was hard to believe. Banis, who had just been arrested for domestic violence, started talking about a murder six months earlier.
"This is something you don't encounter, it's rare," Lesher told jurors of the admission, "so he begins to tell us that we don't know about this murder and he can take us to the body and he eventually provides us the name of the guy."
The name? James Carroll. Banis told detectives Carroll, who went by Jamie, was a crystal meth dealer he had sex with. Prosecutors contend both Banis and Mundt had sex with Carroll and planned to rob him. They say the two stabbed and shot Carroll in December 2009 inside their Old Louisville home on South Fourth Street and had no respect for his corpse.
"He was stripped naked with only a few personal items," Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Josh Schneider told jurors, "he was hog tied with his knees broken by a sledgehammer so he could fit in this plastic coffin."
Police say Banis told them he and Mundt dug a hole for the plastic bin and put lime on the body to conceal the smell. He said Carroll's rap sheet helped them cover up the crime.
"He (Banis) said his family probably would think he's in prison and wouldn't even know he was missing," testified Lesher.
The attorney for Banis, Justin Brown, told jurors Mundt committed the murder because he was jealous. Brown maintains Banis only helped bury Carroll.
"He did not take a life and he did not do these unimaginable things to his friend and his lover," said Brown.
A few months before the body was discovered Banis and Mundt were arrested in Chicago. Banis told police a gun that was confiscated there was the murder weapon.
Mundt, who'll be tried later this spring, is expected to testify against Banis later this week.
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