Witnesses: Accused Woman an Overspender
Monday, July 10, 2006; 10:51 PM
SAN DIEGO -- A woman accused of poisoning her Marine husband and using money from his life insurance policy to get her breasts enlarged was a chronic overspender who refused to live within a family budget, witnesses testified Monday.
Cynthia Sommer, 32, pleaded not guilty in March to charges of murdering Sgt. Todd Sommer, 23, in February 2002 for financial gain. Prosecutors haven't decided whether to seek a death sentence.
Tests of Todd Sommer's liver found levels of arsenic 1,020 times above normal, a court document said.
But naval investigator Rob Terwilliger testified at the preliminary hearing that investigators found no connection between Cynthia Sommer and the source of the arsenic.
"Then I guess the theory is it just had to be her?" asked defense attorney Robert Udell.
Terwilliger also testified Cynthia Sommer refused to curtail her spending on clothing and meals out in order to receive assistance from the Navy-Marine Relief Society. He said the Sommer family had an $867 monthly deficit before the Marine's death.
Cynthia Sommer received an initial consultation on breast enhancement surgery the day her husband first complained of feeling ill, Terwilliger testified. She had the $5,400 surgery in April 2002.
She received a $250,000 lump-sum life insurance payment and a $6,000 military death benefit, as well as $1,871 a month from the Department of Veterans Affairs, authorities said.
Outside court, Udell denied his client profited from her husband's death. "After one year it was a wash," he said.