REGION: Life sentence in husband poisoning case

By Charles W. Kim, Packet Media Group
   NEW BRUNSWICK — A woman convicted of poisoning her husband to death in 2011 will spend the rest of her life in prison, according to officials.
   The husband of Tianle Li, 43, died while being treated at the former University Medical Center of Princeton.
   Superior Court Judge Michael A. Toto, sitting in New Brunswick, sentenced Ms. Li, of Monroe, on Sept. 30, according to a press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
   In July, a jury convicted Ms. Li of poisoning her husband, Xiaoye Wang, 39, in 2011.
   The jury of six women and six men deliberated for about two hours before finding Li guilty, according to the release.
   During a six-week trial, Middlesex County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christie L. Bevacqua and Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Allysa B. Gambarella presented evidence and testimony showing Li administered poison to her husband in Monroe.
   On Jan. 14, 2011, the date the Monroe couple’s divorce was supposed to be finalized, Mr. Wang checked himself into the University Medical Center while suffering from flu-like symptoms such as lung ailments and congestion.
   Eleven days later, the hospital discovered he had been poisoned with thallium, but there wasn’t enough time to cure him, and he died the next day after falling into a coma.
   Thallium is a soft, odorless, malleable and highly toxic metal found in the earth’s crust.
   It was used in rat poisoning and insecticides in the United States before production of the metal was banned in 1984.
   Ms. Li, a chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb on Route 206 in Lawrence, pleaded not guilty Feb. 9, 2011, to the charges of hindering apprehension and causing the death of her husband.
   The prosecution proved that Ms. Li used her position at work to acquire the deadly substance and then administered it to him over a period of time, including while he was hospitalized.
   The judge said the defendant must serve at least 62 years and six months, which represents 85 percent of the term, before she can be eligible for parole. The judge also imposed a five-year term for the hindering count but said it will be served concurrently to the life term.
   Mr. Wang’s family also filed a civil lawsuit against the hospital and Bristol-Myers Squibb in addition to the criminal case.
   According to the family, Mr. Wang told doctors that his wife was poisoning him, and on Jan. 18 they began testing him for thallium poisoning, but the positive results did not come until a week later.
   Brian Fritz, attorney for the firm representing the family, said in an earlier interview that the medical center should have taken affirmative, proactive measures to make sure Mr. Wang was safe and secure in the hospital facility.
   ”They didn’t call anyone outside of the hospital until he slipped into a coma,” he said in the earlier interview.