updated 12/13/2007 2:06:45 AM ET 2007-12-13T07:06:45

A biochemist who killed her husband by knocking him out and pouring hydrochloric acid on him was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder.

A Superior Court jury found Larissa Schuster, 47, of Clovis, guilty of murdering Timothy Schuster with the special circumstance that the murder was committed for financial gain. His half-dissolved body was found a few days after his 2003 death in a barrel that was inside a storage unit that his wife had rented.

Schuster faces a mandatory term of life in prison without parole at sentencing, set for Jan. 16.

Defense attorney Roger Nuttall declined to comment to The Fresno Bee after the hearing. A call to his office by The Associated Press seeking comment after the verdict was not immediately returned.

Jury selection began in October in Fresno. The trial was moved to Los Angeles after a judge ruled there was too much media attention in Fresno County to be able to find an impartial jury.

Bitter divorce
The Schusters co-owned a chemical lab and were in the midst of a bitter divorce.

Prosecutors said Larissa Schuster and her former lab assistant kidnapped her 45-year-old husband on July 10, 2003, knocked him out with a stun gun and chloroform-soaked rag, then dumped his bound body headfirst into a barrel while he was still breathing.

The assistant, James Fagone, told authorities that Larissa Schuster then poured hydrochloric acid into the 55-gallon container.

Fagone said Schuster paid him $2,000 to help rob and assault her husband but he didn’t know murder was planned. Schuster testified that Fagone killed her husband by accident and that she only helped dispose of the body.

Fagone was convicted in December 2006 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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