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N.J. woman sentenced to life in prison for fatally poisoning husband with thallium
ByNEW BRUNSWICK — A former chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb was sentenced today to life in
on September 30, 2013 at 11:42 AM, updated September 30, 2013 at 4:53 PM
prison for murdering her husband by feeding him thallium, a tasteless, odorless and highly lethal chemical, after he sought a divorce.
Judge Michael Toto ordered Tianle Li of Monroe to spend life in state prison. Under the terms of the no early release act, Li, who is 44, must serve 85 percent of her sentence, or at least 62 years, six months and 19 days in prison.
A Middlesex County jury convicted Li in July of fatally poisoning her husband with thallium on multiple occasions.
"Ms. Li sat at her husband's bedside and watched his condition deteriorate knowing there was an antidote for the poison. This was a planned, calculated act performed in a depraved manner," the judge said.
Li cried as she thanked her mother who came from China to take care of the couple's now 4-year-old son and she insisted "I didn't murder Xiaoye Wang and I will appeal."
She said she believed "we have a solid case" to appeal.
Middlesex County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christie L. Bevacqua said the woman devised a plan to maximize her husband's suffering.
"Rather than allow her husband to divorce her, Tianle Li chose murder," the prosecutor said. "She chose death and she didn't choose a simple, fast death. She chose one that put him through a lot of pain. While Li was outwardly at his bedside she was keeping a journal of his symptoms. She calculated everything — how to kill him and how to get away with his murder."
Bevacqua read a statement from Wang's father, who lives in China, about the impact his son's death has had on him and his family.
"I had to bury our son," Ming Wang said. "I'll never be able to see Xiaoye's bring smile. We will only live the rest of our lives mourning our loss."
Defense attorney Steve Altman told the judge he tries to "humanize" his client at sentencing and tried to "explain the circumstances why the person I represent is here in the courtroom."
Talking to the judge he said, "During the trial you learned the history of her life. Immigrants always need to assimilate. You saw the conflicts that exist coming from an Eastern culture and trying to get comfortable with Western culture. I think that's what brought us here today."
He said Li has been westernized but the fighting began when Wang's family came from China in 2009 after the birth of their son to help her with the child.
"Li was Westernized but her in-laws came from the Eastern culture and couldn't accept the Western culture. Poor Mr. Wang was caught in the middle of the situation. There was a mix of issues and facts and cultures that gradually deteriorated and brings us here."
Wang filed for divorce in 2010 and moved out of the house but his wife asked him to move back to help take care of their son.
Authorities charged that Li began poisoning her husband as early as November 2010, and continued to do so even as he lay in a hospital bed.
Wang checked himself into University Medical Center in Princeton, complaining of abdominal pain, on Jan. 14, 2011, the day the couple was supposed to finalize their divorce in a New Brunswick courtroom. He remained hospitalized until his death on Jan. 26, 2011, the day after doctors received test results showing he had lethal amounts of thallium, a heavy metal, in his system.
Wang’s parents have filed a lawsuit against the hospital and his widow’s former employer on behalf of their grandson. They insist the hospital failed to take Wang seriously when he suggested his wife had poisoned him, and that Squibb should not have granted Li access to thallium after a fellow employee had obtained a restraining order against her.