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Crime News Murders

Wisconsin Woman Convicted of Killing Beautician Friend with Eye Drops in Her Water

Prosecutors say Jessy Kurczewski fatally poisoned 62-year-old Lynn Hernan with over-the-counter eye drops in 2018 and later swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from her dead friend.

By Dorian Geiger
Jessy Kurczewski Pd

A Wisconsin woman will likely now spend the rest of her life in prison after she was convicted of killing her friend by drugging the woman’s water with a lethal dose of eye drops.

Jessy Kurczewski, 39, was found guilty on Tuesday in the 2018 death of beautician Lynn Hernan, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. A Waukesha County jury convicted Kurczewski on one count of first-degree intentional homicide. She was also found guilty of two counts of theft of movable property less than $100,000 but more than $10,000.

RELATED: Milwaukee Woman Allegedly Murdered Friend Using Eyedrops, Then Defrauded Her Of $290K

The jury returned their verdict around 1:30 p.m. Deliberations had lasted for roughly a day and a half before the jury reached their decision following closing arguments on Monday. Kurczewski cupped her hand over her face and wept openly in court for several minutes after the judge delivered the verdict.

Prosecutors said the trial had been “seeking justice for life that was unjustly taken,” calling the verdict “a step toward closure to all those who grieve Lynn.”

“The defendant betrayed Lynn out of greed,” Deputy District Attorney Abbey Nickolie said.

Jessy Kurczewski sits in court

How did Lynn Hernan die?

On October 3, 2018, police found Hernan dead in her Pewaukee, Wisconsin, condo. Pill bottles were scattered about by her body. An autopsy later revealed that Hernan had ingested a fatal amount of tetrahydrozoline, a common medicine in over-the-counter eye drops like Visine, as well as nasal sprays. Her death was later ruled a homicide by the Waukesha County Medical Examiner. 

Why did Jessy Kurczewski kill Lynn Hernan?

During police interviews, Kurczewski had claimed Hernan was suicidal and ingested eye drops along with vodka by herself. Prosecutors, however, maintained Kurczewski plotted to poison Hernan and later staged her death as an overdose in order to defraud the Wisconsin woman of nearly $300,000, according to The Associated Press

During the trial, prosecutors pointed out how, following Hernan’s death, Kurcezewski assumed control of Hernan’s finances and slowly drained the woman’s savings. In one instance, Kurcezewski cashed a check fraudulently made out to her from Hernan for more than $130,000, according to court documents previously obtained by Oxygen.com. Prosecutors say she also caused Hernan’s credit score to plummet posthumously by maxing out her credit cards, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hernan was from Madison, Wisconsin, according to her obituary. She was a salon owner and hairstylist.  

Kurczewski’s defense team had hotly contested any involvement in Hernan’s death during the trial. Attorney Donna Kuchler argued Hernan was like a mother to the Wisconsin woman. She disputed that Hernan’s overdose death occurred due to tetrahydrozoline alone and alluded to a “polydrug overdose,” meaning that the 62-year-old had taken a deadly mixture of drugs. 

RELATED: Mom of Dentist Convicted in Brother-in-Law's Murder Plot is Arrested Days After He's Found Guilty

Kuchler also alleged that Hernan’s health was failing, that she’d been in a lot of pain prior to her death and following a palliative care consultation, had begun freely spending her savings. This included gifting ample funds to Kurczewski, Kuchler claimed.

“Lynn gave Jessy money all the time because she wanted to,” Kuchler said. “Giving money to Jessy made her happy. Jessy was like her daughter.”

Kurczewski’s defense team didn’t speak with reporters after the verdict was rendered.

Loved ones of Hernan breathed a sigh of relief after the verdict was read. Anthony Pozza, a friend of the dead Wisconsin woman, said her death had triggered “five years of stress,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He referred to Hernan, who he said had been like a close family member, as “Aunt Lynny.”

Kurczewski remains in custody at a Waukesha County detention facility ahead of her December 7 sentencing, according to online jail records. She faces a mandatory life prison sentence on the first-degree murder charge and a maximum 10-year sentence on the pair of theft charges.

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