A California dermatologist was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly poisoning her husband with liquid drain cleaner, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Yue “Emily” Yu, 46, has been indicted on three felony counts of poisoning and one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury, according to a Wednesday press release.
Yu’s attorney, Scott Simmons, says his client will plead not guilty. He says the husband engineered these events in order to take advantage of Yu in divorce court.
Yu’s husband, Jack Chen, who also is a doctor, stated in court documents that he was poisoned with a liquid cleaner and that she was trying to kill him.
“I started noticing a chemical taste in my lemonade. Eventually I developed symptoms that had me see the doctor who performed an examination and diagnosed me with two stomach ulcers, gastritis, and esophagitis,” Chen said in court documents filed for his divorce, restraining order and custody of their two children.
After noticing a strange taste in his drink, Chen installed cameras in the kitchen to see if he could capture any evidence of why his drink tasted strange, the district attorney’s office said.
According to court documents, Chen has videos of three separate occasions of Yu “pouring Draino [sic] taken from under our kitchen sink and pouring it into my lemonade.”
In one of the videos, Chen said his hot lemonade was covered with plastic wrap. He said the video then shows Yu “taking the Draino [sic] from under the sink, removing the covering to pour the Draino [sic], and then replacing the cellophane and putting the Draino [sic] back.”
Chen collected samples of the beverage and turned them over to the Irvine Police Department, according to the district attorney’s office. “The samples were later turned over to the FBI for testing, which confirmed the substance was consistent with liquid drain cleaner.”
Simmons, Yu’s attorney, said that the events surrounding this indictment take place in the context of a troubled marriage and a high-stakes divorce case between two physicians.
“He’s falsely claiming that she’s trying to poison him,” Simmons said. “Instead of calling 911, he calls a divorce lawyer.” Simmons said that Chen never went to the ER for treatment and that the medical evidence is inconsistent with him having consumed a drain cleaner.
According to Simmons, the family had an ant problem in the kitchen and they commonly used Drano with lemonade to bait and kill the ants.
“Drano is not a covert poisoning agent, it’s got a crazy terrible taste, it burns, your eyes start watering,” Simmons said.
Steven Hittelman, the attorney representing Chen in divorce proceedings, told CNN on Thursday that his client has now “physically recovered from the injuries from the poison.”
Hittelman said he was satisfied with the grand jury indictment and is especially pleased that it included the domestic violence charge.
David Dworakowski, Yu’s divorce attorney, said his client “is innocent of these outrageous charges; she looks forward to presenting her case at trial.”
While the divorce has not been finalized, Yu is now able to see her children unsupervised. Custody arrangements are still ongoing, according to Hittelman.
Yu will be required to self-report to the Medical Board of California, which will determine whether she will be allowed to continue her practice.
If convicted on all counts, Yu faces a maximum sentence of eight years and eight months.
Yu is scheduled to be arraigned on April 18.
“Our homes should be where we feel the safest,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the press release. “Yet, a licensed medical professional capitalized on her husband’s daily rituals to torment her husband by systematically plying his tea with a Drano-like substance intending to cause him pain and suffering.”