Husband on Trial Two Decades After Wife's Poisoning Death

The nicotine poisoning case has stumped authorities for years.

ByABC News
September 4, 2014, 8:21 AM

— -- Two decades after a California woman’s death, her husband is finally facing trial, accused of poisoning her with an injection of nicotine.

Jury selection will continue today in the murder trial for Paul Curry. His wife, Linda Curry, died in 1994 at the age of 50. Paul Curry was 37 at the time. He is 57 now.

The cold case had stumped authorities for years.

According to court records, Linda Curry “started mysteriously having symptoms” about nine months into her marriage. The couple had met while working at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and lived in the beach town of San Clemente.

Numerous doctors tried to figure out what was making her ill. But before they could uncover the cause of Linda Curry’s illness, she was dead.

A year after her death, forensic tests confirmed that the nonsmoker had fatal levels of nicotine in her system.

As prosecutors told ABC station KABC-TV in 2010, it took years – and additional tests – before authorities could allegedly link Paul Curry to his wife’s death.

“Science’s ability now to determine the amount of nicotine in somebody’s system, and how, was able to help us,” said Ebrahim Baytieh, the Orange County senior deputy district attorney.

Curry was arrested four years ago in Kansas, where he worked in government, overseeing building inspections. He had remarried, and was living off a $400,000 insurance payout from Linda Curry’s death.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Michael Kraut says the case brings challenges for prosecutors.

“This case has unique problems because of the amount of time that’s passed,” Kraut said. “Witnesses may have died.”

Curry has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Opening statements in the trial are expected to begin next week.