Joseph Banis was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the December 2009 murder of his drug dealer and alleged sexual rival James Carroll, who was stabbed and shot during a drug-fueled ménage à trois with Banis and his ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Mundt.
Before being sentenced, Banis made a statement proclaiming his innocence and reportedly blaming his former partner for the murder, “Make no mistake, it was Jeff who shot Jamie, it was Jeff who stabbed Jamie.” He called Mundt a “liar, psychopath and murderer. … The truth is evident for anyone who cares to look and opens their eyes to see.” Banis also asked Judge Mitch Perry to set aside the plea agreement which spared his having to face the death penalty. In the agreement Banis accepted a sentence of life in prison if convicted, in exchange for his testimony against Mundt. In that agreement he also waived his right to appeal a guilty verdict. Banis insists that he had no knowledge of having waived that right, saying after his sentencing, “I will continue to fight for my freedom.”
Judge Perry has been asked repeatedly by Banis’ defense to set aside the plea agreement, but insists that the agreement was done properly and that Banis did understand what he was doing when he entered into it. Perry sentenced Banis to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. Banis’ attorneys say they will appeal the Judge’s ruling regarding the plea agreement.
Banis and his boyfriend Jeffrey Mundt were arrested in June 2010 after a domestic altercation in which Mundt called 911 for help from the bathroom saying that Banis had a hammer and was going to kill him. Once in custody, each man offered to tell police about a murder in exchange for not having to go to jail. In what must’ve seemed to detectives like a scene from a bad film noir, each man then implicated the other. Investigators soon discovered the body buried in the wine cellar in the home the two men shared.
Once the body of victim James Carroll was unearthed, Mundt agreed to testify against Banis in exchange for not having to face the death penalty; Banis agreed to testify against Mundt to avoid death as well. Both claimed the other had committed the murder and both testified to having been forced by the other into complicity with death threats.
In March 2013 Mundt testified against Banis, who was convicted by the jury of robbery, evidence tampering, complicity to murder, and also on drug charges. In May Banis testified against Mundt, whom the jury found not guilty of the murder charge, but guilty of facilitation to robbery and tampering with evidence. The jury recommended an 8-year sentence. He awaits a June sentencing hearing in jail. With credit for time served when he is sentenced, Mundt will already be eligible for parole.
Read the whole twisted tale of Joseph Banis, Jeffrey Mundt and the Murder of James Carroll.