NJ Woman Accused of Poisoning Husband Appears in Court

By Brian Thompson
|  Thursday, Feb 10, 2011  |  Updated 11:23 AM EDT
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A NJ chemist pleads not guilty to a charge that she murdered her husband with poison.

A NJ chemist pleads not guilty to a charge that she murdered her husband with poison.

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A New Jersey woman has appeared in court to hear charges that she poisoned her husband with what prosecutors called a "lethal and massive dose" of thallium.

Tianle Li, 31, did not say a word during the appearance in a Middlesex County courtroom.

Her husband, Xiaoye Wang, 39, had checked himself into the University Medical Center in Princeton on January 14, complaining of "flu-like symptoms." He later died.

Assistant Prosecutor Nicholas Sewitch said Li, as a chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb, would have had access to thallium through her work in the company's labs.

Neighbors said police "were always coming to the house" and Sewitch said the couple had a history of domestic disturbance calls.

The investigation determined that the thallium was administered sometime likely in December or early January, though tests are still underway to pinpoint how often and exactly when, according to Sewitch.

Experts described how the poison works.

"It would be fatal first by nerve damage, leading to respiratory paralysis of the breathing muscles," Dr. Ann-Jeannette Geib, a toxicologist at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick told NBC New York.

Sewitch said the investigation is still active, and told the court that he expected a grand jury indictment within the next three months.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY
 

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