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Jury finds Wisconsin woman guilty of poisoning friend with eye drops

A Wisconsin woman has been found guilty of poisoning her friend with eye drops, officials announced Tuesday.

A jury found 39-year-old Jessy Kurczewski guilty of first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of theft in the 2018 murder of her family friend Lynn Hernan, the Waukesha County District Attorney's office said in a press release. 

Hernan was found dead in her Pewaukee condo in October 2018 with crushed medication on her chest. According to a criminal complaint, Kurczewski called the police and said her friend wasn't conscious or breathing. Kurczewski said she was a family friend and had been checking on Hernan daily. She had said there was a possibility Hernan was suicidal.

The Waukesha County medical examiner ruled Hernan's death a homicide after discovering tetrahydrozoline, an ingredient in Visine, in Hernan's system.

Eyedrop Poison
Jessy Kurczewski listens during her trial in Waukehsa, Wisconsin, on Nov. 13, 2023. Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool

When investigators told Kurczewski that Hernan was poisoned and the scene was staged to look like a suicide, she said it was what Hernan wanted and she must have staged her suicide, according to the complaint. Kurczewski later told investigators she brought Hernan a water bottle loaded with six bottles' worth of Visine, according to the complaint.

Detectives also eventually concluded Kurczewski stole $290,000 from Hernan.

Prosecutors said they were satisfied with the verdict and offered condolences to Hernan's family.

"The verdict today is a step toward closure for those who grieve for Lynn, and it sends a clear message to the community that our society will not tolerate the intentional act of taking someone's life," Abbey Nickolie, the county's deputy district attorney, said in a statement. 

Kurczewski is set to be sentenced on Dec. 7, 2023. The homicide charge requires a mandatory life sentence as well as an additional 10 years of imprisonment for each count of theft, prosecutors said.

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