CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A paramedic from Gaston County is accused of using Visine eye drops to kill his wife last year for a hefty life insurance payout, according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

The eye drops can cause heart failure when ingested in large quantity, which is what happened, prosecutors said in court Friday.

Joshua Lee Hunsucker, 35, of Mount Holly, was charged with first-degree murder in a preliminary hearing on Friday, a Department of Insurance press release said. Hunsucker is a paramedic working for Atrium Health, according to WBTV, the Charlotte Observer’s news partner.

He is accused of killing his wife, Stacy Robinson Hunsucker, 32, on Sept. 23, 2018, state officials said in the release.

Her death was tied to a $250,000 insurance payout, despite the fact Joshua Hunsucker wouldn’t allow for an autopsy prior to her cremation, according to the Shelby Star.

Stacy Hunsucker was a mother of two and worked for the Preschool at First Baptist Charlotte, according to her obituary.

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Jordan Green, an attorney for the Department of Insurance, told court officials Friday that investigators got a breakthrough in the case when they learned vials of Stacy Hunsucker’s blood had been kept in storage by a private company involved with organ donation.

Her blood was tested by a medical examiner, Green said at the hearing, “and it tested (for) very high levels of tetrahydrozoline, which is one of the active ingredients in certain eye drop medicine that you would use to clear your eyes.”

The level of the drug in her system was “between 30 and 40 times the therapeutic level of tetrahydrozoline,” the Shelby Star reported.

“We’re told by our toxicologist and our cardiologist that medicine has a dramatic effect on your heart and would cause heart stoppage and heart failure in a fairly short amount of time, which is consistent with what happened here,” Green said in court.

Investigators ruled out other suspects in her death and the possibility of suicide, he told the court.

An interrogation of Joshua Hunsucker on Dec. 19 left prosecutors with probable cause to believe he poisoned his wife “with Visine or a similar product and caused her death,” Green said in court.

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“Without saying too much, quite a bit of our information we got from him during his interview,” Green said. “I don’t know that he would characterize it as a confession, but it certainly approached that level.”

Hunsucker’s bond was set at $1.5 million.

State officials said they began investigating the case of potential life insurance fraud in May, according to a press release.

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