(WBRE/WYOU) – It’s a story 25 years in the making…one that captured national attention. On Monday…that final chapter was written when an area woman was released just after midnight.
Joann Curley is a free woman for the first time since 1997 when she admitted she killed her husband Robert Curley by spiking his iced tea with rat poison. Robert Curley’s family says they will never be free again from the pain of their loss.
Susan Curley Grady says twenty years behind bars was not enough punishment for the slow painful death her brother Robert endured at the hands of Joann Curley. Curley was released from a state prison near Erie just after midnight on Monday. She was arrested in 1996 and said she wasn’t guilty.
Curley faced the the possibility of the death penalty, however there was no trial. She confessed to killing her husband, pleaded guilty to third degree murder and was sentenced ten to twenty years in prison.
The prosecution’s case was largely based on scientific evidence during an exhumation of Robert Curley’s body two years after his death. It showed that he was poisoned over a long period of time.
Former Luzerne County District Attorney Peter Paul Olszewski wanted a first degree conviction and a possible death sentence but back then had concerns about the science involved. “That type of toxicology testing was never before admitted into evidence in any Pennsylvania Courtroom. So the question for us was whether or not a court would find that evidence reliable enough to be admitted” Olszewski says.