Jury convicts Banis of murder


by Adam Walser


Posted on March 8, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 8 at 11:15 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- After deliberating for nearly nine hours Thursday, it only took jurors a matter of minutes late Friday morning to convict Joseph Banis of murder, robbery and half a dozen other felony charges.

Banis was convicted of both complicity to murder and robbery, that means he is eligible for the death penalty.

That means a second phase of this trial will begin on Monday, in which jurors will decide whether Banis will be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Banis showed no emotion as he was convicted of murdering and robbing James Carroll, then burying his body in the basement of an Old Louisville mansion.

Carroll, described as a cross dresser, a drifter and a drug dealer, was killed while having sex with Banis and his boyfriend Jeffrey Mundt.

Mundt and Banis crushed his legs with a sledgehammer, then buried his body in a Rubbermaid container.

It was not found for six months.

Prosecutors shared news of Banis' conviction with Carroll's mother.

“We have spoken to her. She is obviously relieved,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryanne Conroy said. “Nothing will bring him back. He may not have been living a lifestyle that she wanted for him, but this was a horrible way to die.”

The nine day trial featured hours of testimony about sex, drugs, the murder and the cover up.

“The facts and the circumstances have been things you don't typically talk about in open court. But they were relevant to what we were trying to get the jurors to determine,” Conroy said.

The Commonwealth's key witness, Jeffrey Mundt, spent two full days on the stand.

He was promised not to get the death penalty when his case goes to trial in May, in exchange for his testimony against Banis.

Author David Domine is writing a book about the strange case and sat through the entire trial.

“The prosecution's star witness Jeffrey Mundt for me wasn't very convincing, but the way they framed it, that wasn't the issue,” Domine said. “They didn't have to believe one or the other. The prosecution has said they committed this act together and it looks like the jury bought it."

Even though the jury was sequestered at a local hotel during deliberations Thursday night, they were allowed to go home over the weekend, with a strict warning not to talk about the case before the penalty phase begins Monday morning.