A Poisoning Trial Gets National Attention

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LUZERNE COUNTY -- A poisoning trial in Luzerne County is starting to get national attention, as national organizations start contacting the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office for more information.

Helen Galli said she is innocent, framed by her son's former girlfriend, but that is not what a jury decided in Luzerne County court this week.

After hours of deliberations Thursday, the 81 year old from Wyoming was found guilty of poisoning Dawn Simyan in 2010, using antifreeze and Juicy Juice. The concoction almost killed Simyan.

"Its about time. What's wrong with her? Is there something wrong with her? She`s evil," said Simyan after the verdict.

In 1990, Helen Galli was arrested and charged with trying to hurt her other son's wife.

She pleaded guilty in 1991, admitting she gave her two granddaughters kerosene and persuaded them to torch her daughter in law's home in Plains Township.

The Hon. Correale Stevens is a state Supreme Court Justice.

In the early 1990's, he was the Luzerne County District Attorney, and he remembers Helen Galli.

"It was an absolutely horrendous case. It was almost like a Lifetime movie network case, which was happening," he said from his office near Hazleton Friday.

For the arson, Galli was sentenced to four years house arrest and 10 years probation.

At the time, some wondered why she was not sent to jail for a crime so serious.

Stevens said at the time, he and fellow prosecutors thought she was very dangerous.

"We obviously felt she was a danger to society at that time. You don't use your grandchildren to start a fire and not be a danger," he said.

During the most recent poisoning trial, one of Helen Galli's former neighbors testified that Galli asked her to blow up Simyan's car.

That neighbor told investigators after the trial this week, she was threatened. The district attorney's office is investigating.

Justice Stevens said he is not surprised Galli has been in trouble with the law more than once.

"There are innocent people out there, and you want to protect them. That's the police's job and the prosecutors," said Stevens.

Helen Galli is scheduled to be sentenced in December, but first she is headed to trial on other charges.

Wyoming police said Galli stole $23 worth of meat from Price Chopper in 2010.

That trial is scheduled for November in Luzerne County.