A California dermatologist has pleaded not guilty to charges that she poisoned her husband by pouring a “Drano-like” liquid into his tea, causing him stomach ulcers. The husband alleges that he’s lived with such abuse for years, amid an acrimonious divorce and child custody battle.
Yue “Emily” Yu, 45, of Irvine, entered her plea in an Orange County, California, courtroom on Thursday. The pre-trial was scheduled for July 27. She was indicted on three felony counts of poisoning and one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury, prosecutors said. Irvine is about 45 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Authorities said it all began in early April 2022, when Yu’s husband noticed a strange taste in his tea, fell ill and suspected that his wife was responsible.
He installed cameras in the family’s Irvine kitchen to see if he could capture any evidence of why his tea tastes strange, prosecutors said.
Her attorney said her husband told her to put Drano in his cup to solve an ant problem in the home.
On July 11, July 18, and July 25, video captured Yu pouring a substance out of a bottle of liquid drain cleaner into her husband’s tea on the counter, officials said.
Her husband collected samples of the tea and turned them over to the Irvine Police Department. The samples were turned over to the FBI. Tests confirmed the substance was consistent with liquid drain cleaner, prosecutors said.
Irvine police arrested Yu in August on suspicion of poisoning. She was released from jail after posting a $30,000 bond.
The husband has recovered, his lawyer Steven Hittelman told Law&Crime. The case followed years of domestic abuse by Yu, even using sleep deprivation on their children as punishment, court documents revealed.
In August, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Yu that temporarily barred her from seeing her children, Hittelman said.
Yu’s attorney, Scott Simmons said the husband installed the cameras to set his wife up to gain the upper hand in their custody dispute, the Orange County Register reported.
“He then sets her up after he knows she is going to do that,” Simmons said, according to the paper. “He sets up what he calls spy cameras to capture her pouring the Drano into the tea. The backdrop of all these facts, obviously, is the high-stakes divorce litigation that is going on.”
Yu faces up to eight years and eight months in prison if convicted on all counts, officials said. She must self-report to the Medical Board of California, which will determine whether she will be allowed to continue to practice medicine. A check of the Medical Board’s website on Friday showed her status as active to practice medicine.
The Register reported that Yu can practice medicine pending trial under a state agreement.
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