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Supreme Court orders retrial of wife in nicotine-poisoning death of husband

All News 15:26 July 27, 2023

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the retrial of a woman who was sentenced by lower courts to 30 years in prison on charges of killing her husband by feeding him food and drink mixed with a nicotine solution.

Citing a lack of evidence, the top court overturned the 30-year prison term for the 38-year-old suspect, whose identity was withheld, and sent the case to the Suwon High Court in Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul.

The woman was arrested and indicted in 2021 on suspicion of poisoning her 46-year-old husband to death by feeding him cold water, porridge and a multi-grain powder drink that contained a lethal dose of nicotine solution.

She claimed innocence, arguing he appeared to have committed suicide. But prosecutors seized liquid nicotine and electronic cigarette devices from her, while autopsy results showed the husband died of nicotine poisoning though he reportedly quit smoking for eight years before his death.

A district court recognized all of her charges and sentenced her to 30 years in prison. The appellate court also maintained the 30-year sentence but recognized only the charge of nicotine poisoning through cold water.

The Supreme Court said it is difficult to uphold the lower courts' sentence, because her charges have not been fully proven. The court said it is difficult to see that a set of indirect evidence is sufficient as active evidence to prove her charges and there remain questions about her guilty verdict.

The top court also said it is difficult to completely rule out the possibility that the victim may have drunk nicotine for other undisclosed reasons and more than two-thirds of the water in the cup that the suspect had given the victim was not drunk. In addition, it is difficult to conclude that the liquid nicotine seized from the suspect was used in the crime because of the considerable difference between it and the nicotine found in the drink, the court added.

The Supreme Court (Yonhap)

The Supreme Court (Yonhap)


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