Jury trial set for man accused of attempted murder

February 21, 2024
Northampton Courthouse

By Linda Cicoira

A Cape Charles area resident, who is suspected of the attempted murder of his wife and seven other crimes, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to all charges in an arraignment in Northampton Circuit Court.

Thirty-nine-year-old Joel E. Guerra, also known as Joel Antonio Guerra, of Hungar’s Beach Road, asked for a jury to determine his fate. Judge Leslie L. Lilley scheduled an August trial, nearly a year after the suspect was arrested. The maximum sentences for the alleged charges total 35 years.

Defense lawyer Carl Bundick said his client has a “good understanding of English,” but he felt that in a courtroom setting, it was necessary to have someone translate for him. At times, Guerra used an interpreter Tuesday.

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In addition to attempted murder, Guerra was indicted on felony counts of abduction by force, threat, intimidation, or deception; shooting at or in an occupied dwelling, and using of a firearm in a felony. He also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of assault and battery of a family member, reckless handling of a firearm, brandishing a firearm, and destruction of property valued at less than $1,000.

According to court documents, police were called to the Guerra home on Aug. 30, 2023, for a domestic disturbance with weapons. The victim, Michele Guerra told authorities that her husband beat her, held a gun to her head, and fired a weapon several times in the home. One bullet hit her cell phone after going through a bed pillow. The defendant surrendered when police arrived at the scene, the records stated.

Guerra is being held in the Eastern Shore Regional Jail without bond. He was cuffed at the wrists and ankles during the proceeding and wore a bright orange jail jumpsuit.

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