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Monday, May 15, 2017

The Selena Irene York Poisoned Smoothie Case

     Selena Irene York, and her teenage daughter, after falling on hard times, were taken in by 79-year-old Ed Zurbuchen who let them live in his Vernal, Utah home. On September 29, 2008, his 33-year-old house guest gave him a peach smoothie. Shortly after drinking it, the old man was taken to the hospital complaining of dizziness, numbness of the face, and speech difficulties. At first, doctors thought he had suffered a stroke. After four days in the hospital, Mr. Zurbuchen underwent a series of liver and kidney tests that revealed he had ingested ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in anti-freeze.

     Although Selena York had given Mr. Zuburchen the drink that had made him sick, had made herself the beneficiary of his life insurance policy, and had taken control of his bank account, he didn't want to press charges against her. Without the victim's cooperation and testimony, the Uintah County prosecutor didn't have a case. In 2009, the suspect and her daughter moved to Eugene, Oregon. Although the authorities in Utah believed York had tried to murder the old man, the investigation went cold.

     On April 2011, the poisoning case came back to life when the Uintah County prosecutor received a letter from Joseph Dominic Ferraro, Selena York's former boyfriend, and the father of her child. Ferraro, who was in jail for sexual assault, had been living with York and his daughter in Eugene, Oregon. According to Ferraro, York had bragged to him about poisoning an old man in Utah in an effort to kill him so she could take over his estate. Since York had drained Ferraro's bank account, and sold both of his cars while he sat in jail, he believed her story. And so did the authorities in Utah.

     In June, police arrested York in Eugene on the charge of attempted murder. After being extradited back to Utah, York, in exchange for the reduced charges of aggravated assault and forgery, confessed to poisoning Mr. Zuburchen. She said she had purchased the smoothie at a nearby store, dumped out half of its contents, then poured in the antifreeze. After his death, she planned to gain power of attorney over his estate. Before she had left Utah after the failed homicide, York forged a check on the victim's bank account for $10,000.

     In December 2011, Selena York was allowed to plead no contest to the reduced charges of aggravated assault and forgery. Two months later, the judge sentenced her to three consecutive five-year prison terms. (It's doubtful she will serve 15 years behind bars.) Had Mr. Zubuchen died of poisoning, York would have been eligible for the death sentence. Had she not ripped-off Mr. Ferraro (who was convicted of 21 felony sexual abuse counts), she would have gotten away with attempted murder. This woman was a cold-blooded killer, a sociopath who should never get out of prison.

     Mr. Ferraro, the father of York's child who informed on her, was sentenced to ten years in prison on the sexual abuse case. However, he won an appeal that led to the overturning of his conviction. The trial judge had improperly denied Ferraro's motion to postpone his trial in order to acquire more time for his attorney to prepare his defense. The Lane County prosecutor, rather than schedule a second trial, allowed Ferraro to plead guilty to a single count of second-degree sodomy. Sentenced to three years on that charge, the sex offender walked free because he had already served four years on the multiple felony conviction. Because of a legal technicality, this sexual criminal got off light.

     Because our criminal justice system is overwhelmed by criminality, it is distorted and ineffective due to the need for plea bargaining which keeps the whole system afloat. Without it, the entire mess would collapse. While certain politicians would like to empty our prisons, I think society would be better off with a much larger prison population. This case makes a good argument for that proposition. 

2 comments:

  1. You are sure right and people like Selena should stay in prison. Her actions have not changed to date.. She is very calculating in her. Affairs. She screams victim now and she is very sick in the head I would pay taxes for bigger prisons just to keep people like Selena in prison people would be more safe

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    1. You don't even know her, maybe YOU should worry about yourself before you spread lies about something you know nothing about Joan!

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