Husband Convicted of Murdering Wife with Lethal Injection of Nicotine

Husband Convicted of Murdering Wife with Lethal Injection of Nicotine
Paul Curry and Linda Curry
Orange County Sheriff's Department/Zuma Press

09/30/2014 AT 07:50 PM EDT

Merry Seabold spent the past two decades fearful that her best friend, Linda Curry, would not get justice, and Curry's husband would get away with murder. All that changed Tuesday afternoon.

"I begged her to leave him before it was too late," a relieved Seabold told PEOPLE minutes after an Orange County Superior Court jury announced that nuclear engineer Paul Curry was guilty of injecting his wife Linda with a lethal dose of nicotine in June 1994 to collect over $500,000 in life insurance money.

"Linda Curry was for him nothing more than a paycheck," Assistant District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh told jurors during Curry's 20-day trial. "He was greedy, wanted money and for that he killed his wife."

Paul Curry – who met Linda while the two worked at the San Onofre nuclear power plant – was a suspect in her death from the beginning, but the case remained unsolved until investigators reopened it in 2007.

The evidence against Curry may have been circumstantial, but the facts, which included allegations that he'd tampered with his wife's IV bag during one of her many hospital stays, were damning.

During the trial, his second wife, Leslie Curry, testified how she, like Linda, suffered from a mysterious, debilitating illness during their marriage. "It wasn't until we split up," said Leslie, "that I started feeling better."

News of the verdict was bittersweet for Merry Seabold, who tried to convince Linda that her husband was poisoning her during the last year of her life. "She just didn't want to believe that Paul was capable of something like that," said Seabold. "But deep down I think she knew what was happening and couldn't accept the truth."

A sentencing date for Curry, who now faces life in prison, will be set on Oct. 31.

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