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Australian Woman Denies Murdering Her Former Husband’s Relatives with Poisonous Mushroom Lunch

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A woman accused of serving her ex-husband’s family poisonous mushrooms pleaded not guilty in an Australian court on Tuesday to three charges of murder and five charges of attempted murder.

Erin Patterson, 49, appeared briefly in Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court by video link from a Melbourne prison, where she has been held since her arrest in November last year. She is accused of killing her former parents-in-law, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, and Gail Patterson’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66.

All three died in a hospital days after consuming a meal at Patterson’s home in July.

She pleaded not guilty to all charges and will appear at Victoria state’s Supreme Court in Melbourne for the first time on May 23.

Proceedings have been fast-tracked after Patterson dispensed with a committal hearing where a magistrate would have examined the prosecution’s case to ensure there is sufficient evidence to warrant a jury trial.

She has not applied to be released on bail during any of her four court appearances.

Erin Patterson is also accused of the attempted murder of her ex-husband, Simon, at that lunch and on three previous occasions dating back to 2021. Simon Patterson did not accept an invitation to attend the lunch.

She has also been charged with the attempted murder of Wilkinson’s husband, Ian Wilkinson.

Ian Wilkinson spent seven weeks in a hospital following the lunch.

Police say the symptoms of the four sickened family members were consistent with poisoning from wild Amanita phalloides, known as death cap mushrooms.

Erin Patterson could face up to 25 years in prison for each attempted murder charge, while murder in the state of Victoria carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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