Jan. 6, 2007 -- In a murder trial that began in California this week, a young mother is accused of using arsenic to kill her Marine husband to, according to prosecutors, pay for plastic surgery and a shopping spree.
The murder mystery has gripped San Diego and a Marine Corps Air Station.
Cynthia Sommer, 33, is accused of poisoning her husband Todd Sommer, a Marine, with arsenic for financial gain so she could afford plastic surgery and a shopping spree.
Sommer is accused of murdering her husband in order to collect his $250,000 life insurance policy. Prosecutors say soon after he died, Sommer spent $5,400 on breast implants and hosted boisterous parties at her home on the base.
They recounted what she said when medics removed his body.
"She said something to the effect of, 'We joked about the life insurance policy, but I never thought I'd actually see it,'" San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Laura Gunn said.
Todd Sommer's death was initially ruled a heart attack, but tests later found arsenic in his liver at levels 1,000 times above normal.
But the mystery has deepened because analysts say the prosecutor has been unable tie Sommer's wife to the poison.
"She doesn't have any evidence linking Sommer to possessing or trying to buy arsenic," said Beth Karras, a Court TV news correspondent. "She has ways of trying to get around it. She did a lot with what she had. It's a tough case though."
Sommer's attorney Robert Udell said the state is pursuing a case based only on circumstantial evidence and that his client is not guilty.
"There's still not one piece of evidence, one document, one hearsay statement connecting Cindy with arsenic, or even the attempt to get arsenic," Udell said.
He said a 911 recording of Cynthia Sommer's call to medics is inconsistent with the behavior of a murderer.
"Todd don't do this to me! What am I going to do without you?" she said on the call.
Udell said his client will eventually take the stand and testify in her own defense, but that also means she can be cross-examined. If the jury does not believe her story and convicts her, Cynthia Sommer could face life in prison.