48 Hours December 16 2023: “The Journals of Maria Muñoz”

On Saturday December 16 2023 at 10:01 PM, CBS broadcasts the new “The Journals of Maria Muñoz” episode of “48 Hours”.

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The Journals of Maria Muñoz Information

In the early morning of Sept. 22, 2020, police officer Gregorio De La Cruz responded to a call at a home in Laredo, Texas. At the top of the stairs of the house, Joel Pellot, dressed in surgical scrubs, was performing CPR on his wife, Maria Muñoz. Paramedics and police jumped in to help, but at 3:58 AM, less than three hours after Joel Pellot had called 9-1-1, 31-year-old Maria Muñoz was declared dead inside their home. Was Maria’s death a suicide, an accident or a murder? Authorities turned to her journals for help. Correspondent Erin Moriarty reports on 48 HOURS: “The Journals of Maria Muñoz” to be broadcast Saturday, Dec. 16 (10:01-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+.

When Joel, a nurse anesthetist, called for help, he told the 911 operator that his wife may have taken pills. At the scene, he showed police a bottle of clonazepam, a drug often used to treat anxiety. It had been prescribed to Joel, not Maria. Investigators also discovered a syringe wrapper on the floor, a needle catheter on the stairs, syringes and I.V. equipment in a medical bag inside the home.

The medical examiner ruled that Maria Muñoz died of a combination of drugs in her system but couldn’t determine how they got there. What puzzled investigators is that there was no clonazepam pill residue in her stomach and Maria had a pinprick mark on her right elbow crease.

When Dr. John Huntsinger, an anesthesiologist and Joel’s former boss, learned of the autopsy results, he immediately became suspicious. Dr. Huntsinger tells Erin Moriarty, “I called Detective Mata and told him my concerns.”

He urged Sergeant Luis Mata, the lead detective on the case, to order a detailed toxicology screening to determine which drugs had killed Maria. Nearly four months after Maria’s death, Sergeant Mata and Officer De La Cruz finally got the toxicology test results they had been waiting for.

Sergeant Mata tells Erin Moriarty there was “zero clonazepam” found in Maria’s body, but the toxicology report revealed the presence of seven other drugs – morphine, Demerol, Versed, propofol, ketamine, lidocaine and Narcan. Most of these medications are typically used during surgery and propofol can only be administered with an I.V.

Dr. John Huntsinger tells Erin Moriarty, “I was very shocked to see propofol … One of the things about propofol, it relaxes you greatly, but it doesn’t last very long. It makes you stop breathing if you have too much.”

Erin Moriarty responds, “I think most of us, when we hear about propofol, we think of Michael Jackson.”

“Correct,” Dr. John Huntsinger replies.

Singer Michael Jackson’s death in June 2009 was blamed, in part, on an accidental overdose of propofol. And after Maria Muñoz’s death, a highly elevated level of the drug was found in her system.

Dr. John Huntsinger says, “Hers was the highest level I’ve seen … I believe this was death by propofol.”

Maria’s husband, Joel Pellot, was taken to the police station and booked for her murder. Prosecutors believe he was the one who gave his wife the deadly mixture, but can they prove he wanted her to die? Maria’s journals, discovered in her home by investigators, will hold clues that would help prosecutors solve her case.

Investigative reports on crime and justice cases.

Airdate: 10:01 PM Saturday 16 December 2023 on CBS

Cast of 48 Hours

Main Cast
Erin Moriarty
Peter Van Sant
Richard Schlesinger
Maureen Maher
Tracy Smith
Jim Axelrod
Anne-Marie Green
Michelle Miller

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