Last updated: April 17. 2014 11:41PM - 3005 Views
By - rdupuis@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County judge has rejected poisoner Helen Galli’s arguments that her conviction and sentence were flawed.

Judge Fred A. Pierantoni issued his ruling Thursday.

Jurors in October found Galli guilty of aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment for pouring antifreeze into a glass of Juicy Juice at her Wyoming home in March 2010 and giving it to her son, Victor Galli, to take to his girlfriend, Dawn Simyan.

Galli, 82, has been committed to the State Correctional Institution at Muncy, in Lycoming County, on the 5 1/2- to 12-year sentence Pierantoni handed down after her conviction.

Simyan suffered severe medical problems, but she survived and testified at Galli’s trial.

Prosecutors said Galli intentionally poisoned Simyan on March 31, 2010, because she was jealous of Simyan’s relationship with Victor Galli, prosecutors said, including concerns that Simyan was drawn to the man’s money, including a $1 million natural gas lease he signed.

Defense attorneys argued that Simyan, 44, poisoned herself to gain attention from Victor Galli, jealous of how close he was with his mother.

Galli’s appeal, filed in February by attorney Al Flora Jr., took aim at Simyan’s testimony that Victor Galli told her the drink he handed to her came from his mother, which Flora called “uncorroborated hearsay.”

Pierantoni noted a criminal defendant’s statements are not excluded by the hearsay rule.

Rather, the judge wrote, jurors are free to believe “all, part, or none of the evidence presented,” adding “once the jury resolved the issue of credibility against the defense and in favor of the Commonwealth’s witnesses, the verdict was obvious.”

Pierantoni took that argument further.

“The jury reasonably could have concluded the theory posited by the defense — that Dawn Simyan ingested antifreeze in an attempt to kill herself or for the purpose of financial gain — was not only far-fetched but patently ridiculous considering all the evidence presented,” Pierantoni wrote.

Based on other testimony, “the fact-finder was free to conclude that Helen Galli not only harbored animus toward and thought about killing Dawn Simyan, but actually and repeatedly attempted to enlist a trusted neighbor in blowing up Ms. Simyan’s car with her in it,” the judge wrote.

“The evidence additionally established defendant’s jealousy of Dawn Simyan and further that Dawn Simyan posed a threat, in the defendant’s mind, to both her personal and financial well being.”

Regarding sentencing, Pierantoni added that the sentence was appropriate for the conviction and fell within the standard range of guidelines, also noting his remark from the sentencing hearing that “it is the opinion of the court that the state Department of Corrections is best suited to meet any needs associated with (Galli’s) health and/or any age-related issues.”

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