(NEW YORK) — A Wisconsin woman accused of spiking her friend’s water bottle with a lethal dose of eye drops was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree intentional homicide.
The jury found Jessy Kurczewski, 39, guilty on all counts, including intentional homicide and theft, after deliberating over two days. Kurczewski broke down in tears as the verdict was read in Waukesha County court.
Kurczewski had been charged in connection with the death of 62-year-old Lynn Hernan, who was found dead in her home in Pewaukee in 2018.
Kurczewski was also accused of defrauding Hernan of nearly $300,000 in the two years leading up to her death, according to the criminal complaint.
Kurczewski had pleaded not guilty to first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of felony theft.
Hernan was found unconscious on Oct. 3, 2018, seated in her living room recliner next to a table filled with prescription pills with what appeared to be crushed medication on her chest, according to a police report. The case was initially ruled a drug overdose.
Kurczewski, Hernan’s friend and caregiver, called the police to report that she went to Hernan’s home and found her unresponsive and not breathing, according to the complaint. Kurczewski allegedly told police that she believed Hernan was suicidal because of her debilitating health conditions, the complaint stated.
The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office reopened the investigation roughly three months after Hernan’s death when the toxicological report showed Hernan had a fatal dose of tetrahydrozoline, the main ingredient in over-the-counter eye drops, in her system, according to the criminal complaint.
Kurczewski was arrested and charged in June 2021.
During the weeks-long trial, prosecutors said that Kurczewski was one of the beneficiaries of Hernan’s will and argued that “Lynn Hernan became worth more dead than alive” to the defendant.
The defense claimed that Hernan wasn’t poisoned by Kurczewski.
“She just liked vodka. She also liked Visine. I have no idea why,” defense attorney Pablo Galaviz said of Hernan during opening statements last month.
Prosecutors said they were satisfied with the guilty verdict and said the medical examiner’s work provided “vital evidence” in the case.
“The defendant betrayed Lynn out of greed,” Waukesha County Deputy District Attorney Abbey Nickolie told reporters following the verdict. “This case highlighted the financial vulnerability of the victim and what a person would do to get what they want.”
The defense did not speak to the press following the verdict.
Kurczewski will be sentenced at a later date. She faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
“It’s been five years of stress. I’m just glad we finally have justice,” Anthony Pozza, a family friend who was another beneficiary of Hernan’s will, told reporters following the verdict.
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