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Defiant Helen Galli found guilty

Verdict could mean 20-year sentence for 81-year-old

October 11. 2013 12:12AM

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WILKES-BARRE – Helen Galli said Thursday after being convicted of poisoning Dawn Simyan that Simyan is responsible for poisoning herself with antifreeze in March 2010.

A Luzerne County jury said otherwise and convicted the 81-year-old Galli of three related charges after deliberating a total of four and half hours Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

“It’s about time,” Simyan, 44, of Jenkins Township, said after hearing the verdict. “She’s evil.”

Galli, of Wyoming, was found guilty of charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment.

Judge Fred Pierantoni said Galli will remain free on $25,000 bail pending her Dec. 5 sentencing. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the aggravated assault charge.

Assistant District Attorney Frank McCabe, who prosecuted the case, said it was Galli who had the motive, the means and the intent to poison Simyan.

During the trial, McCabe painted a picture of Galli being jealous of her son for spending so much time with Simyan, his then-girlfriend of three years, and that the antifreeze was readily available to her in her son’s garage.

Galli had the intent, McCabe has said, because she did not like Simyan and made it evident to everyone she knew.

Galli’s attorneys, Joseph Sklarosky Sr. and his son Michael Sklarosky, did not speak with the media after the verdict was read.

Galli’s son, Victor Galli, said he does not know who poisoned Simyan.

“It’s a shame,” Victor Galli, 56, said.

During the two-day trial, McCabe called witnesses to prove Galli poured antifreeze into a glass of berry Juicy Juice at her Wyoming home and gave it to her son to bring to Simyan, who had stayed the night at his neighboring apartment.

Three doctors testified to the effects Simyan suffered from ingesting the antifreeze, including kidney failure that required her to undergo over 100 hours of kidney dialysis.

Neighbor’s testimony

McCabe also called Helen Galli’s former neighbor, Michelle Chmielewski, who testified about how Galli told Chmielewski of her disdain for Simyan and how she once asked Chmielewski if she knew anyone who could blow up Simyan’s car.

Chmielewski also testified Victor Galli at one point offered her $25,000 to not testify against his mother.

“She’s … evil, vindictive and controlling,” Chmielewski said of Helen Galli after Thursdays’ verdict. “She’s just a nasty, nasty person.” Chmielewski said she was happy with the jury’s verdict and that Galli “got what she deserved.”

Simyan said she believed defense attorneys tried to attack her character because that’s all they could come up with to defend Galli.

“They had nothing else,” Simyan said.

During the trial, Sklarosky Sr. told the jury Simyan was “perpetually drunk” and did erratic things while intoxicated, and cited a September 2013 incident at Simyan’s ex-husband’s home, where she allegedly damaged a door and window and threatened to kill people inside.

Sklarosky suggested Simyan poisoned herself to get Victor Galli’s attention and said some people use antifreeze as a cheap substitute for alcohol.

The attorney had asked jurors if it was reasonable that a “loving mother” would giver her son a glass full of poison to bring to his girlfriend not knowing whether Victor Galli would drink it or not.

“She’s the one that’s guilty,” Helen Galli said Thursday of Simyan after the trial.

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