In September 1988, William LeFever died from a drug overdose. He was in the middle of a messy divorce with his wife, Virginia LeFever, and she claimed that he had committed suicide by overdosing on antidepressants. She had found an empty bottle of his antidepressants in their Newark, Ohio house shortly before he was taken to the hospital. The coroner determined that William had died from an overdose of the antidepressants, but that he would have died much sooner if he had ingested an entire bottle as Virginia claimed. At Virginia’s bench trial, the prosecution’s expert toxicologist provided critical evidence. He testified that only an injection of the medication would explain the course of William’s overdose, and that this meant that someone had poisoned him. The prosecution argued that Virginia, a registered nurse, gave that injection to her husband, and that when he did not die soon enough, she shut him in a closed room with a pesticide fumigant. The judge convicted her of aggravated murder in February 1990, and she was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2010, Virginia’s attorney discovered that the toxicologist had lied about his credentials at Virginia’s criminal trial and in other proceedings. In November 2010, a trial court judge overturned Virginia’s conviction and she was released. The prosecution dismissed the charges against her in April 2011. LeFever later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages, but the lawsuit was dismissed.
- Stephanie Denzel