A 39-year-old Wisconsin woman slowly murdered a wealthy friend with an excessive amount of eye drops several years ago, a jury of her peers in Waukesha County found Tuesday afternoon.
Jessy Kurczewski sobbed when the verdict was read in the courtroom, in a case overseen by Judge Jennifer R. Dorow.
After deliberating for nearly 10 hours and 49 minutes, 12 Badger State jurors concluded that Kurczewski was responsible for the death of 62-year-old Lynn Hernan, who was found dead at home on October 3, 2018. In addition to first-degree murder, Kurczewski was found guilty of two counts of theft of movable property over $10,000 but less than $100,000.
The defendant herself called 911 that day.
The criminal complaint noted that there was “a large amount of crushed medication on her chest and a plate directly to her left that still had a large amount of what appeared to be crushed medication on it,” while describing the victim’s deathbed.
Kurczewski told police different versions of a story about her friend’s death. The first version began with the discovery of the Pewaukee woman’s “unconscious and non-breathing” body in a chair and the subsequent 911 call she made.
That was enough – but not for long.
The original overdose finding was overturned when police later learned that Hernan died from a fatal dose of tetrahydrozoline, the main ingredient in eye drops. A subsequent murder investigation led to Kurczewski being arrested for murder on June 4, 2021.
In response to the new findings, Kurczewski told investigators that Hernan was “known for eye drops and that she purchased them in bulk and that there were bottles and boxes of eye drops throughout the apartment,” the criminal complaint states.
The accused also explained the crushed pills lying with the deceased and near her lying death bed.
“That’s what Kurczewski offered [the victim] “must have staged her own suicide with the crushed pills because Kurczewski claimed she did not do it,” the complaint states. “Kurczewski then says [Hernan] had attempted suicide by drinking Visine in vodka. Kurczewski said [the victim] would try different doses in water bottles or vodka and she would get very sick.”
At some point, however, the defendant’s story is said to have changed again. This time, Kurczewski reportedly admitted that her friend’s death was more of a reluctant case of assisted suicide.
“Kurczewski told her and [victim] She fought over it for an hour before Kurczewski left the house that morning, and finally she gave in and gave her the water bottle with six Visine bottles in it [victim]“, it continues. “Kurczewski said it was ‘her decision’.”
Defense efforts focused on the argument that Hernan was actually obsessed with consuming eye drops; that Kurczewski really cared about her friend; and that she was only trying to ease her suffering.
However, another point of criticism for the defendant – which was the main motive put forward by the state – was the victim’s finances.
Prosecutors alleged that Kurczewski’s expenses increased significantly after she began spending time with Hernan. These spending habits, police say, were only encouraged and made possible only when Kurczewski transferred more than $100,000 of her friend’s money into her own bank account. According to the complaint, Kurczewski defrauded the victim out of a total of $290,210.06 and had control of her estate.
In the end, the jury agreed with law enforcement.
The sentencing date for the defendant was set for December 7th. Neither the state nor the defense requested a preliminary investigation. Victim impact statements could be released via Zoom, the judge said.
As the hearing ended, Kurczewski’s sobs could be heard.
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