Essa Exclusive: 48 Hours Mystery Producer Describes the Yazeed Essa Case as Verdict Looms

(Associated Press)
CLEVELAND (CBS) I'm sitting in the creepy quiet of a Cleveland courtroom, where it's easy to forget that the clock is ticking toward a verdict in the trial of an area doctor accused of poisoning his wife and fleeing to Lebanon, before the FBI, among others, brought him to trial six weeks ago.

Photo: Essa and wife

On February 24 2005, Rosemarie DiPuccio-Essa died after a low-speed car accident - with no apparent injuries. Nearly two months later, tests revealed the cause of death was cyanide poisoning.

Will her husband, Dr. Yazeed Essa, be convicted and sent to prison for life for slipping the cyanide to her in calcium supplements? Will her relatives get some degree of closure, five years after they formed a family task force to figure out how she died? On these questions - and a host of others - the jury is out.

But one thing is certain.

This trial has left the courtroom echoing - with the salacious flashbacks of two women Dr. Essa was allegedly seeing on the side, the sobs of the friend who testified Rosie called her as she was dying, the explosive allegations of a Lebanese fugitive, who testified he heard Essa confess - and the crowd's collective gasp when Essa's own brother - facing prison himself - turned on his brother and testified to the same thing.

If the tales are true about Yazeed Essa's double life, his cold-hearted plot to poison the mother of his two young children, his use of an underground railroad of shadowy contacts to flee the country and his plans to start a new life overseas using a forged identity, it's enough to make you wonder how well you really know the people closest to you.

Stay tuned for the verdict.

The case will be featured on an upcoming episode of 48 Hours | Mystery.

Josh Yager is an award-winning producer for CBS News, who has covered the invasion of Iraq, the Asian tsunami and the meth epidemic in America's heartland. Yager has produced across the network, including 60 Minutes and 48 Hours Mystery, where he is currently covering the trial of Dr. Yazeed Essa.