Woman Sentenced To Prison For Poisoning Smoothie

Published February 14, 2012 11:54PM (EST)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah woman was sentenced Tuesday to consecutive prison terms for spiking a 79-year-old man's peach smoothie with antifreeze after taking control of his bank accounts.

Vernal's 8th District Judge Clark McClellan ordered Selena Irene York, 34, to serve three consecutive terms of up to five years each. York pleaded no contest in December to reduced charges of aggravated assault and forgery.

Authorities said York took control of Ed Zurbuchen's bank accounts after he opened his home to the woman and her daughter. Prosecutors said she stole $10,000 and named herself the beneficiary of Zurbuchen's life insurance policies.

Zurbuchen was hospitalized for four days in 2008 and is still undergoing liver and kidney testing.

"The damage ... we don't know what will happen or how it will affect me later in life," Zurbuchen said Tuesday. "I was healthy as a horse (at the time)."

The case stalled until a jilted boyfriend in Oregon alerted police in Vernal — a town in eastern Utah near the Colorado border — that York bragged about the poisoning. Joseph Dominic Ferraro told authorities York had earlier drained his bank accounts and sold both his cars while he was in jail.

York's defense attorney, Michael Humiston, argued for probation Tuesday but said, "It was clear the victim bore hard feelings, and the judge took that into consideration."

Humiston also asked that the sentences run concurrently since the crimes were part of the same scheme.

"We argued vigorously against that," Deputy Uintah County Attorney John Gothard said afterward. "Yes it was part of the same scheme, but it was a horrendous scheme."

Humiston said his client is remorseful. "This is not the kind of person she is. She wants to make this right and put it behind her," he said.

Zurbuchen initially thought he had suffered a stroke after drinking the smoothie.

"She would have gotten away Scot-free if it hadn't been for what she did in Oregon," he said. "I hope she can get some help."

By Salon Staff

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