Suspect in poison case, 83, denies murder charges

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Suspect in poison case, 83, denies murder charges

A suspect in a case involving a pesticide-laced soda that led to two deaths and four hospitalizations in a village in Sangju, North Gyeongsang, was detained on Monday, authorities said.

The Sangju branch of Daegu District Court in North Gyeongsang, has issued a detention warrant for the 83-year-old woman, surnamed Park, on one murder charge and one attempted murder charge.

“The secured evidence proves the charges are trustworthy, and there are concerns she may be a flight risk or destroy evidence,” the court said.

Park was arrested Friday on suspicions that she poured pesticide into a soft drink placed in the village hall.

On July 14, six female residents were found unconscious and taken to nearby hospitals after having consumed the drink. Two later died.

So far, a health drink bottle with traces of the same pesticide found in the soft drink is one of the most damning pieces of evidence the police have found in the suspect’s home. Police said on Friday that the top on the bottle of the pesticide-laced soda was the same as the one from the health drink.

A bottle of pesticide was also found in Park’s residence, while certain compounds found in the pesticide were also discovered on her motorized wheelchair and clothes.

Law enforcement has also secured video footage recorded from an ambulance to use as circumstantial evidence. An ambulance was dispatched to the scene after a local resident reported seeing one of the six victims lying outside the village hall. Park was there, but did not mention at the time that there were five more women unconscious inside.

Police said that in the footage, Park then just walked away. About 50 minutes later, the other victims were mobilized to hospitals.

After the six lost consciousness, Park was allegedly at the scene but did not report it. When questioned, she reportedly said she thought the women were sleeping and cleared what appeared to be foam from around their mouths.

The suspect has continued to deny the charges against her through her lawyer, claiming that someone put the bottle containing traces of the pesticide in her home.

Authorities are currently looking into a statement alleging that Park had an argument on July 13, with one of the victims while playing the Korean card game hwatu in the village hall.

BY KIM YOUN-HO [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]

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