NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ— A Bristol-Myers Squibb chemist created a toxic potion sending her husband into a coma he never returned from, according a to a jury verdict Tuesday at the county courthouse.
Tianle Li, 42, was charged with the murder of her husband, Xiaoye Wang, in January 2011. Prosecutors argued Li poisoned Wang with thallium, a colorless, tasteless, odorless drug lethal in small doses.
Authorities said Li obtained the highly toxic heavy metal from the supply room at Bristol-Myers Squibb and slowly poisoned Wang for two months. After displaying flu-like symptoms, Wang admitted himself into University Medical Center in Princeton where he died less then two weeks later.
You could cut the tension with a knife in room 503 of the Middlesex County Courthouse earlier this summer, as the trial of Li moved forward.
Defense attorney Steven Altman sat whispering back and forth with Li while Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christie Bevacqua presented her case before Superior Court Judge Michael Toto.
Li’s demeanor appeared surprisingly calm and collected for a woman facing life in prison. Smiling before the judge, her hair was pulled into a loose bun. She wore no make-up, glasses, and dark skirt suits.
Christine Stefanelli, a former cell mate of Li, spoke on behalf of the prosecution. No stranger
to the law herself, Stefanelli has shoplifting charges pending in Essex, Middlesex, Passaic, and Ocean County, NJ.
While incarcerated with Li, Stefanelli told investigators rumors floating around the prison dubbed Li “The Poisoner” and she often spoke of big plans to escape.
Following Stefanelli on the stand was Lt. Rover of the Middlesex County Office of Corrections who knew Li while incarcerated under his watch. The prosecutor presented a cell history report filed by Stefanelli requesting a room change from Li.
Rover said Stefanelli believed shoplifters should not be housed with murderers.
Next on the stand was Investigator Jeffrey Temple. a nine-year veteran of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, and in 2011 began working in the homicide unit.
Temple was assigned Li’s case in January 2011 and was one of three investigators that took her in for questioning the night of Wang’s death.
The following day, the custodian of records for Delta Airlines took the stand. He sat before the court as the prosecutor presented documents Manhan identified to the jury as passenger name records.
Tianle Li’s name appeared on all four PNR documents. Manhan explained that Li purchased one-way tickets to Beijing, China, for herself and her son two days before Wang’s death.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.