Chemist wife convicted of poisoning Chinese husband with thallium

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 July, 2013, 2:55am


A chemist accused of fatally poisoning her Chinese husband with a rare toxic metal she stole from her workplace has been convicted of murder.

Tianle Li, a former employee of New York-based biopharmaceuticals company Bristol-Myers Squibb, was also found guilty of hindering prosecution.

Li, 43, will be sentenced to 30 years to life in prison when she returns to court in September, prosecutors said.

Li killed Xiaoye Wang, a computer software engineer, while they were divorcing by giving him thallium, a tasteless, odourless poison, which she ordered through work in 2010.

The heavy metal, used in rat poison but which is banned for consumer use in the US, can be fatal in tiny doses and is difficult to detect in lab tests.

The government accused Li of slipping the chemical into her husband's food in the weeks before he died on January 26, 2011, because she didn't want the divorce.

Wang, 39, admitted himself to a hospital in Princeton on January 14, 2011, the day their divorce was to be finalised. He complained of abdominal pain and numbness in his hands and feet.

Tests completed the day before he died determined he had been poisoned with thallium.

Li's lawyer said there was no proof she had poisoned her husband. Li's denial that she had obtained thallium through her job led to the conviction.

Wang, a Chinese national, met his future wife while earning a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. They lived in the central New Jersey town of Monroe and had a young son, but were involved in a series of domestic disturbances from 2009.