-- Paul Curry was convicted of murder Tuesday in the 1994 nicotine-poisoning death of his wife.
Closure into the death of Linda Curry, who was 50 when she died, eluded investigators for years.
Jurors in Orange County, Calif. Superior Court reached the verdict after a day of deliberations – guilty of first-degree murder, with special circumstances for poisoning and murder for financial gain. He was also convicted of insurance fraud. Curry stared forward as the verdict was read.
Prosecutors argued that Curry, 57, poisoned his wife in order to collect more than $500,000 in insurance money and other benefits. 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.
Paul and Linda Curry met in 1989 while working at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in northern San Diego County. The couple was married for 21 months when Linda died mysteriously in their Orange County home.
She was a nonsmoker, but tests revealed fatal levels of nicotine in her system.
Curry’s defense attorney argued that Linda Curry had battled health issues for years – even before the couple married – and that Curry was a loving husband.
Linda Curry’s relatives and friends were in court Tuesday, hopeful for justice.
“This is really about Linda and what a beautiful person she was,” her friend Bruce Brandt told KABC-TV. “We can’t bring her back, but at least some justice is here now that he has to pay and think about her for the rest of his life.”
A key witness during the trial was another of Curry’s ex-wives, Leslie Curry, who testified in court that she was frequently sick during their marriage – and that Curry suggested they sign up for life insurance policies.
After the life insurance policy for Leslie Curry was denied, the couple separated. Soon after, her health problems stopped, she said.
It took 16 years for prosecutors to build their case against Curry. Curry moved to Nevada and later, Kansas, where he was remarried and working a government job when he was arrested in 2010.
Prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh was thankful with the outcome of the trial.
“I think we had a very smart jury that went through all the evidence and kept thinking that for 16 years, he was enjoying the fact that, in his mind, he thought he got away with murder,” Baytieh said.
Curry will be sentenced Oct. 31, and could spend the rest of his life in state prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.