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Man convicted in 1994 nicotine-poison death

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POSTED September 30, 2014 7:37 p.m.

SANTA ANA  (AP) — A former nuclear engineer on Tuesday was convicted of murder for poisoning his wife with a lethal dose of nicotine in Southern California in 1994.

Jurors in Orange County Superior Court found Paul Curry, 57, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his then-50-year-old wife, Linda, a district attorney’s statement said.

Curry killed his wife to collect more than half a million dollars in life insurance and benefits after she died, prosecutors said. He sedated his wife with the sleep drug Ambien before injecting her with nicotine, Ebrahim Baytieh, deputy district attorney for Orange County, said during the trial.

Curry’s wife suffered from a series of health issues including anxiety, depression and stomach pain, Curry’s lawyer, Lisa Kopelman, has said.

A message seeking comment was left for Kopelman on Tuesday.

But she insisted on Curry’s innocence during trial. “This case is all about conjecture, innuendo and suspicions, and that is not what guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is,” she said, according to City News Service.

Curry and his wife met in 1989 when they worked at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in northern San Diego County. Curry had previously been married, but he left his former wife after she was rejected for life insurance, Baytieh said.

Curry was arrested in 2010 in Salina, Kansas, where he had rebuilt his life and worked as a building official.

“For 16 years, he thought he had gotten away with it,” Baytieh told the Orange County Register, “and now he’s going to prison for the rest of his life.”

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