By LAUREN SILVER and COURT TV STAFF
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Court TV) – A California dermatologist accused of poisoning her husband with drain cleaner pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Thursday.
Yue “Emily” Yu, 45, is charged with three felony counts of poisoning and one felony count of domestic battery after allegedly pouring Drano into her husband’s tea.
Investigators have pointed to surveillance video from inside the Yu home that appears to show Emily pouring Drano into her husband, Jack Chen’s, tea. Prosecutors said that Chen installed the cameras in the home after first noticing a strange taste in his tea in April 2022, and then said he saw his wife pouring chemicals into his tea on three separate occasions.
In an application for a restraining order filed in court, Chen alleged that Yu was trying to kill him, and said that he first became concerned about his wife’s behavior after their two children were born in 2013 and 2014 and alleges a pattern of abuse. “Not only was she very demanding of me that I give her massages – one time when I could not because I was sick she stepped on my head until I did – and also began hiding money from me.”
Chen accused both Yu and her mother of verbally and emotionally abusing him and their children: “Emily’s parenting, if you could call it that, revolves around yelling, insulting, verbally abusing, hitting, pushing, pulling and being emotionally abusive.” Chen alleges that Yu used sleep deprivation to punish their children.
“When Emily gets frustrated and yells at the children she’ll commonly use a Chinese phrase that translates to ‘go die!’ She also says to the children ‘your head has a problem’ ‘your head is sick’ ‘[expletive] idiot’ and ‘get the [expletive] out of my way.'”
Chen said that he first became suspicious in March and April 2022, when he noticed a “chemical taste” in his lemonade. He went to a doctor after developing symptoms and was diagnosed with two stomach ulcers, gastritis and esophagitis.
The application for a restraining order was filed as part of ongoing divorce litigation the couple had been involved in, and in the document, Chen asks to be granted full custody of both children.
Yu’s attorney, Scott Simmons, told Court TV that Chen specifically installed the cameras in an effort to set his wife up. Simmons admits that surveillance videos show Yu pouring Drano into cups, but said that she was only doing so at the direction of her husband, who wanted to kill pests in the house.
“Jack Chen told Emily to put Drano into the cup to kill the ants,” Simmons said at a news conference following Yu’s arraignment. “He then sets her up on spy cameras to capture her pouring the Drano into the tea. The backdrop of all of these facts is the high-stakes divorce litigation that is going on. … Everybody thought video was the smoking gun, it’s not. Yes, she did pour the Drano, what’s missing is why she poured it.”
Yu remains free on a $30,000 bond. She is still able to practice medicine, though there have been restrictions placed on her license.