Original article no longer available
Ventura County Star (CA)
December 24, 1999
Author: Amy Bentley Staff writer
A Kern County woman who tried to kill her stepgrandfather by poisoning him with sedatives twice was given a life sentence in prison Thursday.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Marvin Lewis sentenced Sindi Samantha Del Tour 42 to the prison term for her earlier guilty pleas to charges of premeditated attempted murder and poisoning. Del Tour admitted that she tried to kill Harley Hartung now 79 by poisoning him with sedatives at his Simi Valley home Dec. 14 last year. She poisoned him again two days later through an intravenous tube after Hartung had been admitted to Simi Valley Hospital suffering symptoms of the depressant medication.
While Del Tour could be incarcerated for the rest of her life she also is eligible for parole after she serves at least 11 years in prison. In court Thursday Deputy District Attorney Audry Rohn called Del Tour “sinister coldblooded and coldhearted.”
The prosecutor disputed defense claims that Del Tour was not thinking rationally when she committed the crimes. In a letter to the judge Del Tour wrote that she didn’t remember trying to hurt Hartung because she’d been taking prescription medications. Del Tour had previously been diagnosed with depression and a panic disorder. But the prosecutor said Del Tour wanted to inherit the estate of the stepgrandfather who had trusted her and loved her dearly. Rohn elicited testimony from a Westlake Village psychiatrist James Rosenberg who reviewed Del Tour’s medical and psychiatric records and concluded there was nothing that prevented Del Tour from knowing what she was doing. “This was a woman who knew what she was doing and why she was trying to do it” Rohn said. “She had motive she had means she had opportunity.”
A judge two years ago appointed professional conservator Sarah Hardcastle to oversee Hartung’s estate then valued at $600,000. Hardcastle told the judge Thursday that Hartung, a former World War II B-52 bomber pilot was in denial about the crimes for a long time because he loved and trusted Del Tour. Hartung who now lives in a retirement home in Oxnard where he can be observed and protected did not come to court Thursday. Hardcastle said Del Tour had also opened credit card accounts in her and Hartung’s name without his knowledge and charged up the accounts.