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VIRGINIA BEACH — A 29-year-old man accused of attacking and killing the mother of his child on Valentine’s Day plans to plead not guilty, according to his defense attorney.

Joseph “Joey” Vincent Merlino III was charged with second-degree murder on Feb. 16 in connection to the death of Ellie Mizon Tran, 35. The pair dated for about three years and had a 2-year-old daughter named Jolie, said Diamond Phan, Tran’s best friend of 10 years.

Tran died on Feb. 15 in Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, about a day after she was attacked in her Still Meadow Court driveway.