ONEAfter her friend was found dead from what police initially believed to be an overdose, Jessy Kurczewski changed the narrative to say she had committed suicide.
Five years later, Ms. Kurczewski faces a murder trial, with Wisconsin prosecutors alleging that she killed her friend, Lynn Hernan, with eye drops and then staged the scene to make it look like she had killed herself.
The 39-year-old pleaded not guilty to charges that she defrauded Hernan of almost $300,000 before he killed her by dumping six bottles of Visine into her water bottle.
The murder trial began Monday, Oct. 23, with jury selection in Waukesha County with Judge Jennifer Dorow, who oversaw Darrell Brooks' Waukesha parade massacre trial, presiding over the proceedings. Opening statements began the following afternoon.
A panel of 16 jurors will hear how deputies found Hernan slumped over in her home with crushed drugs in her chest and how investigators initially thought she had overdosed.
That was until Ms Kurczewski said there was a possibility her friend had killed herself.
But toxicology tests showed Hernan had a fatal dose of tetrahydrozoline, which is the main ingredient in the eye drops, in her system.
When Ms Kurczewski was told by investigators that it was tetrahydrozoline that killed her friend and that the scene had been staged to look like a suicide, she said that was what her friend wanted and that she must have staged her own suicide. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mentionted.
Ms. Kurczewski later revealed to investigators that she had given her friend a bottle of water mixed with six bottles of Visine. She said she didn't think it would kill her friend because she had been drinking it for so long.
Here's what you need to know about the case:
The suicide theory
On October 3, 2018, police responded to a home on Meadow Grass Circle in Pewaukee after Ms. Kurczewski called to report that her boyfriend, Hernan, was unconscious or not breathing. He checked in daily, she said, and that he had been acting strangely for the past week.
Crushed drugs were found on Hernan and prescription bottles were found nearby.
Ms Kurczewski told investigators there was a “possibility” Hernan killed himself. However, other people who knew her told authorities they did not believe she would “intentionally or unintentionally overdose.”
Hernan's death was believed to be a drug overdose, but was later ruled a homicide when the Waukesha County Coroner determined the victim had a fatal amount of tetrahydrozoline in his system.
The coroner said for it to reach those levels with the eye drops, it was “impossible” that it had just been used in the eyes.
The theory of the scene
During several interviews with the police, Ms. Kurczewski had told them that she had brought Hernan a bottle of water with Visine at her request. She said her friend was known to buy a large volume of eye drops and drank Visine with vodka before her death.
While behind bars in the Waukesha County Jail, Ms. Kurczewski told investigators she was “probably going to prison for the rest of her life” for helping Hernan “do what he wanted.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mentionted.
She also allegedly became impaired while in Taycheedah Correctional Institution and told her roommate that she gave Hernan “enough bottles of Visine to kill her”.
Investigators later determined that Ms. Kurczewski had committed nearly $300,000 in fraud, according to the criminal complaint, including a $130,204 check that was “fraudulently transferred” by the victim to Kurczewski.
Ms. Kurczewski told investigators that she was acting as a power of attorney and that Hernan had no immediate family, but a cousin told authorities that it was suspected that she had left her entire estate to Ms. Kurczewski.
He now faces charges of first-degree murder, theft of movable property valued at more than $100,000 and theft of movable property valued between $10,000 and $100,000, according to online court records.
Opening statements began Tuesday and the first witness is expected to take the stand in the afternoon.
Judge Jennifer Dorrow set aside a month for the trial.