A former Kirkland woman who killed her ex-boyfriend and severely injured a woman he was dating by giving them a gift of pesticide-laced Jägermeister was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday.
According to prosecutors, Janjira “Jenny” Smith, 58, was an angry and jealous jilted woman six years ago when she sent the tainted bottle of liquor to her rival as a gift and urged the woman to make sure Smith’s ex-boyfriend, Roger Lewis, 56, of Redmond, had a glass.
Lewis died and the other woman, Thanyarat “Nina” Sengpharaghanh, suffered permanent injuries to her vision as a result of drinking the poison, prosecutors said.
Smith, who fled to her native Thailand after she was initially questioned by Kirkland police, was arrested in London in 2008 and returned to the United States to face first-degree murder and first-degree assault charges in 2011.
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Last month, she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree assault.
Relatives of Lewis and Smith spoke tearfully at the sentencing hearing in which Smith said through a Thai translator that she had never intended for anyone to die.
In meting out the sentence at the top end of the standard sentencing range, King County Superior Court Judge Timothy Bradshaw said the poisoning was not a crime of passion, as Smith’s attorneys suggested, but rather a cold and calculated crime that was the result of “an apparently fatal attraction.”
According to charging documents, Smith had been living with Lewis for more than a year when he returned from a trip and told Smith he planned to marry a woman he’d met in the Philippines.
Smith didn’t take the news well “and tried numerous times to convince Lewis to come back to her,” charging papers say. She also discovered that Lewis had a date planned with Sengpharaghanh on Oct. 6, 2006, the papers say.
Under the guise of helpfulness, Smith told Sengpharaghanh that Lewis liked to have a drink before a night out, and she said she would have a bottle of Jägermeister delivered to Sengpharaghanh’s Kirkland condo, the papers say.
Sengpharaghanh told investigators she was wary but “Smith had told her to make sure Lewis drank the ‘Whiskey’ before they went out, in order to make Lewis happy,” court documents said.
Both Lewis and Sengpharaghanh drank the poisoned herbal liqueur and were found the next day by a friend. Lewis was dead and Sengpharaghanh had suffered a stroke and was partially blinded, court documents say.
The bottle from Smith was sent to the State Patrol Toxicology Laboratory for testing, and the lab reported finding the liqueur was laced with the restricted and highly toxic insecticide Methomyle.
Christine Clarridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8983.