The attorney of the Irvine dermatologist accused of poisoning her husband with drain cleaner claimed that she was trying to address an ant infestation in their home by pouring the liquid into a cup.
Dr. Yue Emily Yu, 45, was arrested on Aug. 4, 2022, on suspicion of poisoning her radiologist husband, Dr. Jack Chen, by pouring Drano liquid cleaner into his lemonade tea over a period of three days in July 2022.
When Chen grew suspicious of the strange taste in his tea, he set up hidden cameras in their kitchen in April of last year. By July, he was able to submit three videos captured by the camera that allegedly support his claim that his wife had been poisoning him.
Yu was charged with three felony counts of poisoning and one count of domestic battery.
“On July 11, July 18, and July 25, 2022, video captured Yue Yu pouring a substance out of a bottle of liquid drain cleaner into her husband’s tea that was left on the counter,” the Orange County District Attorney’s office said in a news release.
Her lawyers, Scott Simmons and David Dworakowski, claimed that her husband set her up and that the footage is misrepresented.
“Dr. Chen basically set her up and put spy cameras or hidden cameras in the kitchen to catch her doing that. Then he claimed he was poisoned,” Simmons told ABC 7. “She does pour the Drano in the cup three times to kill the ants. That’s not disputed. She absolutely poured the Drano in the cup.”
Dworakowski said the former couple used “unconventional methods” to control the pests, explaining that Yu poured Drano and sugar in the drink to attract the ants and hoped that the liquid would drown them.
Obviously, the allegations are disputed. Dr. Yu has been a physician for many years, has never been in trouble before and is a loving mom. We believe there is a sinister motive on the part of her ex-husband to take advantage of her in their divorce case. While prosecutors are making it out like this video of Emily is a ‘smoking gun,’ the reality is she was trying to attract the ants into the glass so they would drown.
Dworakowski noted that it was “odd” how Chen surrendered the footage to his divorce attorney before going to the police.
On Tuesday, the two appeared in court for their divorce hearing.
In Chen’s divorce filings, he said he was diagnosed with “two stomach ulcers, gastritis, and esophagitis” in March and April.
Chen previously filed for an emergency restraining order, claiming that he and their two children are victims of physical and emotional abuse. While Judge Thomas Lo extended Chen’s restraining order against his wife, attorneys on both sides are still discussing Chen’s request for spousal and child support.
In response to Yu’s lawyers, Chen’s attorney, Steve Hittelman, said that his client “did not have an ant problem” in their household.
“This is the first time he’s even heard of using Drano in a cup that somebody was drinking from to somehow keep ants away from someone,” Hittelman told Insider.
Hittelman believes that Yu did not want to kill her husband, but rather wanted to make him suffer.
“What she did was diabolical. She inserted herself into his morning routine so smoothly. We don’t know how long it took him to realize he was being poisoned,” Hittelman told ABC 7.
Yu is scheduled to be arraigned on April 18. If she is convicted on all counts, Yu may face up to eight years in prison.