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Retrial begins in Federal Way strychnine death case

Jury selection started earlier this week in the retrial of Joseph Naimo, a Federal Way pest-control business owner charged with poisoning his wife with strychnine in 2008. - Courtesy photo
Jury selection started earlier this week in the retrial of Joseph Naimo, a Federal Way pest-control business owner charged with poisoning his wife with strychnine in 2008.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Jury selection started earlier this week in the retrial of Joseph Naimo, a Federal Way pest-control business owner charged with poisoning his wife with strychnine in 2008.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office charged Naimo with first-degree murder after his wife of 10 years, Ann Marie Naimo, was found dead on Nov. 28, 2008, in their Federal Way home.

Ann Naimo, 53, died from ingesting strychnine, a substance used to kill pests. Joseph Naimo, a pest-control manager with decades of experience in the field, was the only person with Ann when she passed, according to reports.

Toxicology tests revealed Ann, an alcoholic, also had alcohol and prescription medications in her system when she died.

The first trial, which lasted more than seven weeks, ended in a mistrial in October when jurors deadlocked. The jury was split 9-3 in favor of convicting Naimo of first-degree murder, the King County Prosecutor’s office said.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that Naimo, who was in close contact with a female friend of Ann Naimo’s in the month preceding her death, killed his wife. The defense argued that it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Naimo murdered his wife and that Ann Naimo had ingested the poison herself in a suicide attempt.

According to court records, Ann Naimo was in good health at the time of her death and nothing physically suspicious was apparent in the autopsy. A toxicology test was ordered. The test revealed lethal levels of strychnine, a pesticide poison, in Ann Naimo’s blood and stomach.

Strychnine causes one’s muscles to contract, similar to a seizure, according to court documents. A person exposed to the poison generally remains awake while the poison shuts down the respiratory system. Strychnine can be obtained in liquid, powder or crystal form. Low levels of the poison will cause death if left untreated for 24 to 48 hours, and a high dosage could kill a person within an hour, according to the court records.

At the time of her death, Ann Naimo had a .18 blood alcohol level, according to the documents. Non-lethal amounts of prescription medications were found in her bloodstream, according to court documents, and she was not known to be on any medications. Federal Way police began a homicide investigation.

Joseph Naimo remains in jail in lieu of $1 million bail at the Regional Justice Center in Kent. He’s been there for more than 22 months since his arrest on May 20, 2009. If found guilty of first-degree murder, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

 

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