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Wisconsin woman found guilty of fatally poisoning friend with eyedrops

Prosecutors said Jessy Kurczewski, the caregiver of the 61-year-old woman she killed, was motivated by greed.
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A Wisconsin woman was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree intentional homicide for poisoning her friend with eyedrops.

Jessy R. Kurczewski, 39, wept in court upon being convicted of killing 61-year-old Lynn Hernan five years ago using a fatal dose of tetrahydrozoline, the main ingredient in eyedrops. The jury also found Kurczewski guilty of two counts of felony theft for stealing from Hernan.

Kurczewski, who was listed as one of two beneficiaries in Hernan's will, was "like a daughter" to Hernan, according to the defense. When the case was opened in 2021, Kurczewski initially told investigators that the victim had an obsession with eyedrops and overdosed. She later alleged that Hernan had committed suicide.

Wisconsin woman found guilty of poisoning friend with eyedrops
Jessy Kurczewski during her trial in Waukehsa, Wis., on Monday. Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP

Kurczewski called police to Hernan's Pewaukee home, saying her friend was not breathing. Police found Hernan dead with crushed medication on her chest and on a nearby plate. Kurczewski later told investigators that she brought Hernan a water bottle loaded with six bottles worth of Visine, alleging that she did not think it would kill her friend because she had been drinking it for so long.

During the three-week trial, defense attorney Donna Kuchler claimed that Hernan had committed suicide because she was depressed, sick and abusing medication.

“Everyone at the scene concluded it was suicide. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a suicide. It looked like a suicide,” said Kuchler in her closing remarks. 

But the jury and Judge Jennifer Dorow ultimately sided with the prosecution's argument that Kurczewski, motivated by greed, killed Hernan to defraud her out of nearly $300,000, including money from her estate.

Hernan's friend and ex-boyfriend testified during the trial that the 61-year-old was frugal, and would not have allowed Kurczewski to spend large amounts of her money.

"[The medical examiner] told you, without hesitation, the poisoning in this case was at the hand of another. That's what homicide is," said Deputy District Attorney Abbey Nickolie, according to NBC affiliate WTMJ of Milwaukee.

Hernan's longtime friend Anthony Pozza told WTMJ that justice had been served.

“When I learned of Lynn’s passing, I immediately knew something was awry and not reality. I thank God every day for the detectives and the DA that represented the case,” Pozza said after the trial ended.

Kurczewski’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7.