An elderly northeastern Pennsylvania woman was convicted Thursday of assault in what prosecutors called an intentional poisoning of her son's girlfriend with antifreeze-laced fruit juice to keep her from getting between the mother and her son.
Helen Galli, 81, of Wyoming, was convicted in Luzerne County of aggravated and simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Prosecutors alleged that in 2010, she spiked the fruit juice with antifreeze that was then consumed by 43-year-old Dawn Simyan, sending her to the hospital for three weeks.
Galli didn't want the younger woman coming between her and her son, Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Frank McCabe said.
But defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. noted that the son, Victor Galli, brought the juice to Simyan from his mother's home next door, and he said that didn't make sense.
"Would a loving mother give her son a glass of poison to bring home at the risk of having him drink it?" Sklarosky asked jurors.
Sklarosky accused Simyan of poisoning herself for attention because she was jealous of the Gallis' relationship with each other.
To do such a thing, the prosecutor responded, Simyan would have to have known what would happen and that doctors would be able to save her.
"She would have to be the dumbest person on Earth ... to cause that much pain to herself," McCabe said.
Each side also accused the other woman of having a financial motive because Victor Galli had signed a $1 million natural gas lease in Wyoming County a month before the poisoning.
Galli remains free on bail pending her sentencing scheduled for Dec. 5.