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Wisconsin woman faces life sentence for eye drop poisoning of friend

By Jake Beardslee · November 16, 2023

In brief…

  • Wisconsin woman convicted of fatally poisoning friend with eye drops and stealing from her
  • Victim was found dead in 2018 with Visine ingredient in her system
  • Woman initially claimed victim staged suicide, later admitted spiking water with eye drops
  • Prosecution said poisoning killed victim; defense argued it was suicidal overdose
A Wisconsin woman was convicted of murder for poisoning her friend with eye drops and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the victim before her death.  British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)/Wikimedia

A Wisconsin woman was found guilty this week of fatally poisoning a family friend by spiking her water bottle with eye drops and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her, The Daily Mail reports.

39-year-old Jessy Kurczewski of Franklin was accused of poisoning 62-year-old Lynn Hernan with Visine eye drops in 2018 and stealing nearly $300,000 from her, according to court documents. A jury in Waukesha County convicted Kurczewski on Tuesday of first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of theft related to Hernan’s death. She faces mandatory life in prison for the homicide charge and up to five years for each theft charge.

Kurczewski had pleaded not guilty to the charges last year. At the time of her 2019 arrest, she denied killing or assisting in Hernan’s death.

Prosecutors said Kurczewski called 911 in October 2018 claiming Hernan was unconscious and not breathing. Hernan was found dead in her Pewaukee condo surrounded by prescription bottles. Toxicology showed tetrahydrozoline, the active ingredient in Visine, in her system. The medical examiner ruled it a homicide by poisoning.

When told of the poisoning evidence, Kurczewski claimed Hernan staged her own suicide. She later admitted bringing Hernan a water bottle spiked with Visine. Investigators also found Kurczewski had stolen over $290,000 from the victim.

Prosecutors cited the poison as the cause of death, noting Hernan’s drained finances in preceding months. The defense argued it was a suicidal overdose of multiple drugs.