George Joseph found guilty in 2013 double murder of wife, son

Murder trial for George Joseph begins

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Jurors in a Cape Girardeau County court found Cape Girardeau businessman George Joseph guilty on all charges in the 2013 shooting deaths of his wife and 18-year old son.

The decisions comes as final testimonies were made Thursday, with the jury deliberating a little more than two hours.

The trial of the Cape Girardeau businessman accused of killing his wife and son began in Jackson on Monday.

Prosecutors say George Joseph destroyed his family, and tried to take his own life back in May of 2013, because his whole world was crumbling around him.

But, Joseph's attorney argued there's no proof he pulled the trigger and even implied there could be another shooter.

"He was on the verge of perhaps losing his personal freedom and absolutely about to lose his good reputation in the community."  And that's what prosecutor Angel Woodruff said led George Joseph to shoot his wife and teenage son to death as they slept.

Then, she told the jury, Joseph went out to his pool house, got in the water, and put a bullet between his eyes.

"Between November of 2011 and May of 2013, George Joseph took in over $2 million from various clients," Woodruff said.

She told jurors Joseph's investment business turned into a Ponzi scheme, where he used one client's money to pay back another.

Things got so bad in the spring of 2013 she said that Joseph allegedly borrowed two guns, and used one of them on May 30 to end his family.

Woodruff said Joseph made this statement from his hospital bed.

"I'm so sorry. I am so, so sorry. George explained that he had to put Mary and Matthew in a better place, a happier place.  And heaven is a happier place."

But, defense attorney Cynthia Dryden said her client was in no condition to make those statements.

"Your head has been split from ear to ear this way. It's been stapled back together," she said, describing Joseph's injuries.

She said Joseph was barely able to understand police, who told him he killed his family.

"These kids. These community members. They're all scared. You have to say you did this. We don't want anyone out there thinking someone else did this. You have to say it," Dryden said of investigators' interrogation of Joseph.

Dryden told jurors there's no proof Joseph pulled the trigger, the alleged murder weapon was recovered from the bottom of the family swimming pool.

She even asked if a shell casing never recovered was taken as a souvenir by the real killer.

Dryden called Joseph a gambler, who was actually trying to solve his financial problems the day of the shootings.

"George always had a plan. He was always trying to find a way out of this. And the way out was not trying to kill himself or his wife and child who everyone will tell you he loved."

Testimony in the case began with the members of Mary Joseph's family who first realized something was wrong the early morning of May 30, 2013.

Betty Griffith took the stand in her son-in-law's murder trial to recall the events of that day.

She opened her door, she said, to find her daughter Mary's dog acting strangely.

"But she was different. She just sat there with her head down and wouldn't move," Griffith said of the dog.

Griffith said she called her daughter, no answer. She drove down the hill and knocked, no answer.

She went back home and called her son Bob, he thought she was calling to say happy birthday, he told jurors. Instead, she said there's something bad wrong at Mary's.

First to arrive at the house, Bob made a horrific discovery in the master bedroom.

"I saw a body lying on the bed," Bob Griffith recalled. "I assumed it was a body. It was covered up. There was a pillow laying on the body, lengthways from head to toe and a rosary laying on top of that pillow."

Griffith found the same scene in his nephew's bedroom.

He called 911, he told the jury, thinking he'd found the bodies of George and Matthew and that his sister was missing.

But, as he told that story to the dispatcher, brother-in-law David found George Joseph in the pool house.

On the recording played in open court, you hear Bob taking in that awful news.

"And when David said George was in the pool house, I went back into the master bedroom and I raised the pillow up enough to see Mary's head."

Bob Griffith had to call his mom back and share the heart-breaking news.

We will have more information as it becomes available.

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