The California dermatologist caught on video pouring Drano into her husband’s drink claims she was trying to tackle an ant infestation at their house, rather than poison him.
Yue “Emily” Yu endured an awkward face-off in court at a divorce hearing with estranged spouse Jack Chen Tuesday.
The dermatologist is facing criminal charges of trying to poison him by pouring the liquid drain cleaner into his hot lemonade tea drink over a period of three days in July 2022.
Chen became suspicious after he noticed a strange taste in his tea, so he set up a secret camera system in his home, his attorney, Steve Hittleman, told The Post.
But speaking after the hearing, Yu’s divorce attorney exclusively told The Post his client had an innocent reason for mixing the deadly concoction.
David Dworakowski said the former couple had a noted ant problem in their home and used “unconventional methods” to try to control the pests.
The attorney explained his client placed Drano and sugar in the lemonade-tea drink in a bid to attract the ants and that she hoped the liquid concoction woudl drown them rather than poison Chen.
Dworakowski added it was “odd” Chen would surrender the video footage to his divorce attorney before going to the police.
“Obviously, the allegations are disputed,” Dworakowski said. “Dr. Yu has been a physician for many years, has never been in trouble before and is a loving mom. We believe there is a sinister motive on the part of her ex-husband to take advantage of her in their divorce case.”
“While prosecutors are making it out like this video of Emily is a ‘smoking gun’, the reality is she was trying to attract the ants into the glass so they would drown.”
A grand jury indicted Yu on April 5 on three felony counts of domestic battery with corporal injury. The mother of two faces more than eight years in prison if she is convicted of all the charges, Orange County District Attorney officials said.
Yu was arrested in August 2022 but is out on a $30,000 bond.
Chen, a radiologist, told authorities he suffers from stomach ulcers from ingesting the poison-laced drink.
The former couple, who have two children, are battling out their divorce separately to the criminal case. At the Tuesday hearing, both appeared in front of an Orange County judge.
Judge Thomas Lo extended Chen’s restraining order against his wife. Attorneys on both sides are continuing to discuss Chen’s request for spousal and child support.
After the hearing, Yu walked out of the courtroom flanked by her attorneys as Chen quickly slipped out of the building before his estranged wife.
Hittleman told The Post after the hearing Chen did feel “a bit tense” after seeing his wife again in court. He also questioned the defense’s ant-control argument.
“I cannot give a response as to how the prosecution views this, but I can tell you that’s now the second theory offered by the defense,” Hittleman said. “At first, she was using the Drano to clear the pipes out and now it’s the ant problem. I can tell you Dr. Chen denies there was any use of Drano as ant control for the house.”
Chen also accused Yu – and his mother-in-law – in August of a long history of abuse toward him and their two children.
“As early as two-years-old Emily and Amy were verbally and then physically abusive to [our son and daughter] which intensified as they grew older,” he said in his request for a temporary restraining order. “They are both verbally and physically abusive to me.”
Dworakowski said his client has been a “doting” mother and denies the abuse allegations.
Under their temporary custody agreement, Yu has supervised custody of the children twice a week, while Chen has the kids a majority of the time at their Irvine, Calif. home.
Neither Dworakowski or Hittelman are involved in the criminal case against Yu.
Yu will be back in court on Aug. 18 for arraignment on her criminal charges.
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