A JILTED monster killed his ex-lover by injecting her with deadly cyanide as he lay in wait at her home on Valentine's Day.
Chilling CCTV showed Joseph Merlino III ambushing Ellie Tran as she returned home to their three-year-old daughter.
The 35-year-old ran down the street in Virginia Beach, US, screaming: "Merlino stuck something in my leg".
She called 911 but within 15 minutes the poison took hold and she was unconscious and unable to breathe.
Her family were then forced to make the agonising decision to switch off her life support after Ellie was declared brain dead.
Merlino has now been caged for life after being found guilty of first-degree murder in June.
LIVING IN FEAR
Jurors heard how Merlino injected Ellie with cyanide – which can cause immediate death – in 2017 during a bitter custody battle over their daughter.
The fiend had been fined by cops after grabbing Ellie by the neck in front of their daughter and threatening to put her "under the ground".
He would also break into her home, which she shared with her parents, while she was working as a manicurist to support her family.
Terrified Ellie fitted CCTV cameras outside her home and wrote about living in fear over her ex's next move.
LYING IN WAIT
On Valentine's Day, 2017, the mum pulled into the driveway where Merlino was lying in wait ready to pounce.
Armed with the poison syringe, the killer ambushed Ellie and plunged the antique needle into her leg as she headed to the front door.
Ellie’s mum, Oanh Le, heard her daughter screaming and ran out the house to find her staggering in the street holding her leg.
She died from cyanide poisoning the next day in hospital and Merlino was hauled in for questioning by cops.
Officers discovered internet searches on his computer for "high quality syringes", "what if cyanide gets in the blood stream?", and "how many milligrams of cyanide will kill you?".
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SLAUGHTERED IN FRONT OF MUM
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But to add more misery to Ellie's parents' suffering, Merlino denied murdering their daughter and even tried claiming he was 100 miles away at the time of the attack.
He is still trying to worm his way out of the killing by blaming his lawyers for their failings in the case and says he now plans to appeal.
The monster said: "This was an erroneous conviction. Time will always tell."