SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Kansas man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday for poisoning his wife to death with nicotine two decades ago and then collecting on her life insurance policy.
Paul Marshal Curry, 58, of Salina, Kansas, showed no emotion as he was sentenced by Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue for the 1994 death of his wife, Linda Curry.
Curry called 911 on June 9, 1994, and told authorities he had found his wife of two years in bed and not breathing.
The day after her funeral, he began trying to collect her life insurance benefits and ultimately received $547,000, according to prosecutors.
During trial, prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh told jurors that the former nuclear power plant engineer slowly poisoned his 50-year-old wife over the course of a year before he slipped her a powerful sedative and injected her with a fatal dose of nicotine.
At the time, police believed he had murdered Linda Curry but didn't have enough evidence to press charges.
Curry moved to Kansas and the case went cold until 2007, when investigators discovered new evidence that shortened the window of time that Curry had to give the fatal nicotine injection.
He was arrested in 2010 in Kansas.
In 1993, a year before Linda Curry's death, the couple were questioned when hospital staff discovered a dose of lidocaine in Linda Curry's IV bag while she was being hospitalized for unexplained vomiting, headaches and bloody diarrhea.
At the time, Paul Curry said he had nothing to gain from his wife's death.
During the trial, Curry's former wife testified that in the last year of their marriage she was constantly ill and Curry suggested she apply for life insurance.
When her application was rejected, he divorced her and she instantly began to feel better, according to testimony.
Curry's attorney, Lisa Kopelman, argued that Linda Curry was a sickly person with digestive ailments and that she could have been taking nicotine as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.