France's 'Black Widow' on Trial for Most Recent Husband's Death

Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 07:54 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Manuela Gonzalez, known as France's "Black Widow" because of the deaths of previous husbands and lovers, is now on trial on charges she drugged her most recent husband and burned him to death in his car.

Gonzalez's trial opened Monday with prosecutors charging that the former driving instructor killed her husband for insurance money, reported The Telegraph. They claimed that Gonzalez, 53, and husband Daniel Cano, 58, were regular gamblers but she had lost a large sum of money.

Police charged that Gonzalez re-mortgaged her home for $229,000 without her husband's knowledge.

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Cano's badly burned body was found in his burnt-out vehicle close to a home the couple shared in Villard-Bonnot in the Isère region of the Alps. Prosecutors said they believe Cano unknowingly took an overdose of sleeping pills beforehand.

"I continue to say that I am innocent of what I have been accused and that will be shown in court," Gonzalez said on the opening day of her trial for murder, according to Agence France-Presse.

Investigators became more interested in the case after learning how her other husbands and lovers had died, according to AFP. One husband spent three months in a hospital after absorbing a large doze of anti-depressants in 1983.

Gonzalez was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for a 1984 incident in which a jeweler she was dating drank tea laced with morphine derivatives as part of a plot to get him to write her a check.

Another Gonzalez lover died in 1989 by asphyxiation from exhaust fumes from a car parked in his garage, reported AFP. The case was ruled a suicide. Gonzales was investigated in the death of another partner who died in 1991 from fumes from a fire at a home they shared, but charges were dropped three years later, reported AFP.

Prosecutors have charged that Gonzalez has a split personality, but her attorney Ronald Gallo said that her "black widow" persona is a creation of the French press, according to The Telegraph.

"(The press) doesn't give a damn about the truth and is only interested in the character they have created," said Gallo.

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