WILKES-BARRE — Helen Galli intentionally poisoned Dawn Simyan on March 31, 2010, because she was jealous of Simyan’s relationship with Galli’s son, prosecutors say.
Defense attorneys say Simyan, 44, poisoned herself to gain attention from Galli’s son, Victor.
But, a Luzerne County jury on Wednesday was not able to decide if the 81-year-old Galli is responsible for Simyan’s poisoning.
The jury deliberated for about three hours before being sent home for the night by presiding Judge Fred Pierantoni.
The judge said the jury will return to the courthouse this morning to continue deliberating Galli’s fate.
Galli, of Wyoming, is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment in the case in which prosecutors say she laced Simyan’s juice drink with antifreeze, causing her kidneys to begin shutting down.
Assistant District Attorney Frank McCabe called the last of his witnesses Wednesday morning, including three doctors who testified about the effects of ethylene glycol poisoning and about what Simyan went through during a three-week stay at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital after her kidneys started to fail.
Forensic pathologist Gary Ross testified only that 1 fluid ounce of ethylene glycol would make a person sick and that amount could potentially kill a person if he or she did not receive medical attention.
McCabe also mixed berry Juicy Juice with 2 ounces of Peak antifreeze in a display for the jury and asked Ross to smell it.
“It smells like juice,” Ross said.
Galli’s attorney, Joseph Sklarosky Sr., called four witnesses, including Victor Galli, and Helen Galli’s grandson, Frank Galli Jr., who testified they were at Helen Galli’s house the morning of the alleged poisoning and that no drink was taken from Helen Galli’s place to Dawn Simyan, who had stayed the night at Victor Galli’s neighboring apartment.
Sklarosky also called Simyan’s ex-husband, John Simyan, and his current wife, Patricia Simyan, to testify about a September 2013 incident in which Dawn Simyan showed up at their house, damaged a door and window, and threatened to kill them.
In his closing argument, Sklarosky suggested Dawn Simyan tried to kill herself to get attention from Victor Galli because she was jealous he was so close to his mother.
Simyan is “perpetually drunk,” Sklarosky said, and acts erratically when intoxicated, such as in the September incident. Simyan was also after Victor Galli’s money because he had recently signed gas leases for property in Wyoming County totaling almost $1 million, he said.
“She’s a gold digger. Hate to say it, but the facts are the facts,” Sklarosky said.
McCabe in his closing argument said that if jurors were to believe the “bologna” given to jurors by Sklarosky, all they would need is loaves of bread and they could “feed all the starving children in Africa.”
The prosecutor said it is not logical to believe Simyan would poison herself. She would have to know what would happen and that doctors would be able to save her, he said.
“She would have to be the dumbest person on Earth … to cause that much pain to herself,” McCabe said.