Renowned cancer researcher gets 10 years in prison for using antifreeze chemical ethylene glycol as a deadly weapon

A prominent Texas cancer researcher was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 29 September after she was convicted of first degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon: ethylene glycol. Ana Gonzalez-Angulo was found guilty of poisoning her ex-lover George Blumenschein – another doctor who was her colleague at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Prosecutors said that Gonzalez-Angulo made Blumenschein ill and damaged his kidney function by putting ethylene glycol – a colorless and odorless chemical that is the primary ingredient in automotive antifreeze – in his coffee last year. But the defence argued that there was no proof that she poisoned him. She was arrested in May 2013, and portrayed in the trial as a jealous mistress since Blumenschein had a long-time live-in girlfriend.

‘This is very unique, especially between two high-profile doctors at the top cancer centre perhaps in the world,’ Jeff McShan, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s office in Houston, tells Chemistry World. ‘We rarely see poisoning as a deadly weapon,’ he adds.

Besides serving the prison time, Gonzalez-Angulo also will have to pay a $10,000 (£6,160) fine. ‘The medical world has lost a shining star today,’ said her defence attorney, Derek Hollingsworth, immediately following the sentencing. She could be eligible for parole after serving five years.