Wisconsin Woman Found Guilty of Murdering Friend by Spiking Her Water Bottle with Eye Drops

Jessy Kurczewski, 39, was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of felony theft

<p>Waukesha County Courts / USA TODAY NETWORK</p> Jessy Kurczewski reacting to the guilty verdict, Nov. 14, 2023.

Waukesha County Courts / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jessy Kurczewski reacting to the guilty verdict, Nov. 14, 2023.

A Wisconsin woman now faces life behind bars after a jury found her guilty of lacing her friend's water with eye drops and stealing almost $300,000 from her in 2018.

The Waukesha County jury convicted Jessy Kurczewski, 39, of first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of felony theft Tuesday, per The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Police found Lynn Hernan, a woman in her 60s, dead in her recliner amidst "a large amount of crushed medication on her chest and a plate directly to the left of her with a large amount of what appeared to be crushed up medication still on the plate," according to a criminal complaint previously obtained by PEOPLE.

Related: Wis. Woman Allegedly Poisoned Friend with Eye Drops, Then Staged Scene as Suicide

Police had first completed a wellness check following a 911 call from Kurczewski describing her friend as "unconscious and not breathing” on October 3, 2018.

Police first suspected that Hernan had died of an overdose, but three months later, the Waukesha County medical examiner determined that she had died from a fatal dose of Tetrahydrozoline, the main ingredient in eyedrops, according to the complaint.

Waukesha County Jessy Kurczewski mugshot
Waukesha County Jessy Kurczewski mugshot

Kurczewski, who was arrested in the summer of 2019, switched her story to police multiple times, law enforcement alleged in the complaint.

Kurczewski said Hernan "'was 'known' for eye drops and that she purchased them in great volume and there would be bottles and boxes from eye drops all over the residence," according to the criminal complaint.

She also suggested that Hernan “staged her own suicide with the crushed pills because Kurczewski maintained that she did not," the investigator alleged in the complaint.

Then she told police that she had seen Hernan make herself a cocktail of Visine and vodka just one day before her death, and that the woman in her 60s “had been trying to kill herself” with the cocktail and “would try different doses in water bottles or vodka” to find the lethal dosage, according to the complaint.

And then, Kurczewski’s story changed yet again, according to investigators who alleged in the complaint that the woman then said she had in fact given Hernan a water bottle containing six bottles of Visine at the woman’s behest, according to the complaint. Kurczewski also claimed she gave her friend the deadly drink only after arguing for one hour about how much she didn’t want to do it.

<p>Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP</p> Jessy Kurczewski during trial, Nov. 13, 2023.

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP

Jessy Kurczewski during trial, Nov. 13, 2023.

Law enforcement’s continued investigation into Kurczewski's finances, per the complaint, also revealed that she had transferred more than $100,000 of Hernan’s savings into her own account and that her spending had shot up as she had gotten closer to the older woman.

During her murder trial prosecutors argued that "Lynn Hernan became worth more dead than alive" to Kurczewski, ABC News reported.

"The defendant betrayed Lynn out of greed," Waukesha County Deputy District Attorney Abbey Nickolie said after the verdict, per the outlet. "This case highlighted the financial vulnerability of the victim and what a person would do to get what they want."

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Kurczewski’s lawyers did not give a statement to reporters after the verdict, according to the Associated Press.

But during opening statements in October, one of her lawyers, Pablo Galaviz, told the jury that Hernan’s death could easily be explained by her penchant for eye drops and that Kurczewski was in no way tied to her death, ABC News reported.

Hernan, he said, per the outlet “just liked vodka. She also liked Visine. I have no idea why.”

Kurczewski’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 7, per the AP. The homicide conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.

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