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Woman Switches Plea to Guilty in Poisoning Case

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Kern County woman accused of trying to fatally inject drugs into her 78-year-old step-grandfather pleaded guilty Monday to charges of attempted murder and poisoning.

Sindi Del Tour, a 41-year-old personal trainer, changed her previous plea of not guilty on the day her trial was scheduled to begin in Ventura County Superior Court.

She faces 20 years in state prison when sentenced Dec. 23.

“I think it’s good because she has acknowledged that she did it, which we knew,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Audry Rohn. “Hopefully it will help the victim and his family move on with their lives.”

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Victim Harley Hartung, a retired teacher in Simi Valley, and his family have had a difficult time coping with the case, Rohn said.

“I think there is a sense of betrayal. It’s hard for [Hartung] to fathom that she really did this to him,” Rohn said. “This was one of his favorite grandchildren.”

Prosecutors allege Del Tour wanted money and plotted to kill Hartung so she could collect an inheritance.

They accused her of trying to poison him by twice giving him large doses of Benzodiazepine, a Valium derivative.

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The first incident allegedly occurred Dec. 14, 1998, at Hartung’s home, which Del Tour had started visiting after her grandmother--Hartung’s wife--died last year, authorities said.

A live-in nurse testified at Del Tour’s preliminary hearing that Hartung fell into a deep sleep after a visit with Del Tour and had to be hospitalized when he couldn’t walk the next day.

The second incident allegedly occurred two days later at Simi Valley Hospital when a nurse found a strange bluish liquid in Hartung’s IV tube.

The nurse testified that Del Tour was standing next to a beeping IV monitor and appeared startled.

Del Tour was arrested Jan. 27--a day after police searched her Oildale home near Bakersfield and found syringes, tranquilizers and financial records that showed she was in debt.

She was later charged with premeditated attempted murder, poisoning, elder abuse and credit card fraud.

Prosecutors also alleged that she caused great bodily injury to Hartung, whose health problems required a live-in caretaker.

On Monday, Del Tour admitted to the attempted murder and poisoning charges, as well as the bodily injury allegations.

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The remaining counts are expected to be dismissed at her sentencing.


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