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Woman gets up to 15 years in prison for poisoning elderly man's smoothie

A Utah woman has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for spiking a 79-year-old man's peach smoothie with antifreeze after taking control of his bank accounts.
Selena Irene York
Selena Irene York, seen in a photo supplied by Lane County Jail, spiked a 79-year-old's peach smoothie with antifreeze and doctors initially thought he'd had a stroke.Anonymous / AP file
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A Utah woman was sentenced Tuesday to up to 15 years in prison for spiking a 79-year-old man's peach smoothie with antifreeze after taking control of his bank accounts.

Vernal's 8th District Judge Clark McClellan ordered Selena Irene York, 34, to serve three consecutive terms of up to five years each. York pleaded no contest in December to reduced charges of aggravated assault and forgery.

Authorities said York took control of Ed Zurbuchen's bank accounts after he opened his home to the woman and her daughter.

Prosecutors said she stole $10,000 and named herself the beneficiary of Zurbuchen's life insurance policies.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported Zurbuchen complained of dizziness and numbness in his face after drinking the smoothie. He was admitted to a medical center where doctors at first thought he had had a stroke.

'I was healthy as a horse'
Zurbuchen was hospitalized for four days and is still undergoing liver and kidney testing, about four years later.

"The damage ... we don't know what will happen or how it will affect me later in life," Zurbuchen said Tuesday. "I was healthy as a horse (at the time)."

The case stalled until a jilted boyfriend in Oregon alerted police in Vernal — a town in eastern Utah near the Colorado border — that York bragged about the poisoning.

Joseph Dominic Ferraro told authorities York had earlier drained his bank accounts and sold both his cars while he was in jail.

York's defense attorney, Michael Humiston, argued for probation Tuesday but said, "It was clear the victim bore hard feelings, and the judge took that into consideration."

He said his client is remorseful. "This is not the kind of person she is. She wants to make this right and put it behind her," he said.

Humiston had asked that the sentences run concurrently since the crimes were part of the same scheme.

"We argued vigorously against that," Deputy Uintah County Attorney John Gothard said afterward. "Yes it was part of the same scheme, but it was a horrendous scheme."

"I think justice was served," he added, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Zurbuchen said York would have "gotten away Scot-free if it hadn't been for what she did in Oregon."

"I hope she can get some help," he added.