- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

SAN DIEGO (AP) Toxicologist Kristin Rossum killed her husband with what prosecutors called "the perfect poison" and then, borrowing from a scene in her favorite movie, scattered rose petals around his body.
She almost got away with trying to make it look like a suicide, prosecutors said.
But on Tuesday, on what would have been her husband's 29th birthday, Rossum was convicted of murdering Greg de Villers, 17 months after they were married.
Among the pieces of evidence against her, a receipt was introduced at her trial showing she bought a single rose the day of her husband's death.
She faces a life prison term without a chance of parole. Formal sentencing is set for Dec. 12.
Rossum, a former coroner's office toxicologist who repeatedly professed her innocence on the witness stand during her three-week trial, appeared to buckle as jurors left the courtroom after the verdict.
A gag order prevented attorneys and anyone connected to the case from commenting. Jurors refused to speak with reporters before leaving the court.
Rossum claimed her husband took his own life because he was despondent that she was about to leave him.
She said she found him unconscious in their bed on Nov. 6, 2000, and that he had told her earlier that day he took a combination of old prescription drugs she had bought years earlier.
Paramedics found the body of the biotech worker with red rose petals scattered over him and a wedding photo of the couple nearby.
The red rose petals mimicked a scene from her favorite film, "American Beauty," prosecutors said.
Authorities initially thought the death a suicide, though no suicide note was found. But Greg de Villers' brother, Jerome, an insurance auditor from Thousand Oaks, pressed police to investigate, prosecutor Dave Hendren said.
"If Jerome hadn't called there might not have been a trial," Mr. Hendren said in his closing rebuttal.
Jerome de Villers told police his brother was not suicidal, and most of all, he hated taking any form of drugs.
An autopsy found Mr. de Villers died of an overdose of fentanyl, a powerful opiate commonly used as a painkiller for cancer patients.
Investigators soon learned Rossum had been having an affair with her supervisor at the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office, where she worked as a toxicologist. They also learned she was addicted to methamphetamine.


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