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Woman declared guilty of second-degree murder for poisoning her boyfriend in 2015

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BATON ROUGE - Meshell Hale, the woman accused of poisoning two men, was found guilty of second-degree murder for one of their deaths Friday morning in the culmination of a trial that was delayed several times by medical emergencies and investigators skipping court.

Hale was found guilty of second-degree murder for the 2015 death of Damian Skipper, her then-boyfriend.

Hale was accused of killing Skipper in Baton Rouge by poisoning him, and detectives suspected she did something similar to her husband, Arthur Noflin, about a year later in New Orleans.

Detectives testified that Hale — or a person using her name, contact information, credit card, and computer — purchased barium acetate online on three different occasions. The same compound was found in both men's systems after they died.

Prosecutors say the motive was insurance money. Hale finessed a $10,000 payment from Skipper's life insurance despite not legally being his wife. The state argues she got greedy and wanted more, going after her actual husband, Noflin, who had a $750,000 policy.

Hale's sentencing is set to be announced next Tuesday at 11 a.m. A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence. She will remain in the custody of the sheriff's office until then.

"This is a good Christmas gift for the family," said Michael Durand, Skipper's cousin. "For both families."

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