SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A nuclear engineer at the San Onofre nuclear power plant poisoned his wife with nicotine for greed, a prosecutor told an Orange County Superior Court jury Tuesday.

Paul Marshal Curry, 57, is accused of slowly poisoning his wife, 50-year-old Linda, to death with nicotine from 1993 to 1994 to collect her life insurance benefits.

Linda Curry died of nicotine poisoning on June 9, 1994, but investigators did not have enough evidence so he was not prosecuted at the time. After developing new evidence, Curry was charged in November 2010 with killing his wife to collect $400,000 worth of life insurance and other benefits.

“The evidence is going to show the man at the end of counsel’s table was greedy and wanted money, and for that he killed his wife,” Assistant District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said in his opening statements.

Curry and his late wife met in 1989 at the nuclear power plant in northern San Diego County, where they both worked. He moved in with her in San Clemente and “she was in good health” when they married in September 1992.

A few months after the couple married, Linda Curry started to get sick and had to be hospitalized. Doctors were unable to diagnose her, Baytieh said.

Linda Curry was trusting and tried to see the best in everyone, but she started to grow suspicious of her husband and changed some of her insurance policies to benefit her sister without him knowing, Baytieh said.

Just before midnight on June 9, 1994, Linda Curry was so ill that paramedics were called, but she died shortly after arrival at a hospital, Baytieh said. A day after the funeral on June 15, 1994, Paul Curry started calling insurance companies to file claims. When he realized some of the policies had been changed, he began challenging them, Baytieh said.

The couple did not smoke and smoking was discouraged at their workplace, Paul Curry told investigators when he was questioned in the 1990s, according to Baytieh.

The defendant filed for bankruptcy right about the time he met Linda Curry, Baytieh said.

“For him, she was a paycheck,” Baytieh said. “After he declares bankruptcy and dates her, she becomes a paycheck.”

Curry unsuccessfully argued in an appeal of the case against him that the prosecution’s investigator could not properly testify at the preliminary hearing to the findings of experts who concluded that his wife was poisoned to death.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

 

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