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Woman suspected of poisoning husband and boyfriend in separate killings goes to trial Monday

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BATON ROUGE - A woman suspected of poisoning two people, her husband and a long-term boyfriend, is on trial for first-degree murder.

Meshell Hale is on trial in East Baton Rouge Monday for the death of Damian Skipper, a man Hale referred to as her "husband" and whom she is accused of poisoning in June 2015.

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Skipper's death was originally attributed to a heart attack, but that changed after a later autopsy report found barium acetate, a powerful poison, in his system. 

Another man, Arthur Noflin, was reportedly killed and found in a burning car in New Orleans in March 2016, almost a year after Skipper's death. Hale reported him missing several days later. No one was arrested, but an investigation determined Noflin had been poisoned prior to his death.

The circumstances surrounding both deaths led investigators to exhume Skipper's body and examine it further, leading to the discovery of poison in his system and ultimately causing his death to be labeled a homicide. 

Hale claimed to be married to Skipper, but investigators said she was only legally married to Noflin. Hale was also the sole beneficiary of Noflin's $750,000 insurance policy.

Prosecutors said they expect the trial to come to a close within the week. 


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