MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. – A woman accused of killing her brother-in-law by spiking his smoothie with antifreeze pleaded not guilty to murder Monday.
A defense attorney for Maryann Neabor (search), 53, said she admitted putting chemicals in the drink but intended only to make Jonathan Neabor sick enough so she could take control of his money.
"Maryann Neabor is apparently mentally ill," said Craig Mitnick after the hearing. "She's made a horrendous decision. There's no justification or excuse for it."
Neabor, who said little during the hearing, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder. She was being held on a $500,000 bond.
Prosecutors said they planned to present their case to a grand jury within three months.
"This is in our view not any type of an accident. It was a premeditated action," said county prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi.
Neabor allegedly poisoned her brother-in-law on Wednesday at her home in Shamong Township (search) in southern New Jersey so she and her husband would have access to his money to ease their financial troubles. She allegedly concocted a drink that included pineapple juice, maraschino cherries and antifreeze, state police said.
Mitnick said his client acted alone and without the knowledge of her husband and their sons, ages 17 and 22. She turned herself in to protect her family, he said.
Her husband, Michael Neabor, has not been charged.
"She did not want to place her husband and children in any jeopardy because they had no knowledge of this," he said.
Mitnick said a more appropriate charge would be reckless manslaughter.
Mitnick said his client has threatened suicide and has severe depression and diabetes. The judge granted a request for psychiatric and medical evaluations.
Jonathan Neabor was a retired postal worker with no family of his own. He had a postal service pension and a life insurance policy that names his brother as the sole beneficiary, Mitnick said.
Mitnick said Michael and Maryann Neabor have not recovered financially since being granted bankruptcy protection five years ago.
Maryann Neabor taught three continuing education classes for adults this year, including one on Tuesday, April 20, on keeping homes safe.
"With a little care, we can protect our families from the leading causes of death and injury in the home, like falls, fire and poisoning," according to a Web site description of the class.