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HOUSTON (AP) — The girlfriend of a Texas researcher who prosecutors allege was poisoned by a woman with whom he was having an affair testified Tuesday that her boyfriend suspected the woman was responsible but was afraid to contact authorities.
Evette Toney, the girlfriend of Dr. George Blumenschein, told jurors that Blumenschein feared the other woman might attack him again while he recovered in the hospital.
Dr. Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo, a breast cancer doctor based at Houston's famed Texas Medical Center, is charged with aggravated assault after prosecutors say she spiked Blumenschein's coffee in 2013 with ethylene glycol, a sweet-tasting chemical found in antifreeze.
Prosecutors say that Gonzalez-Angulo and Blumenschein, a fellow researcher, were involved in a casual sexual relationship. They say Gonzalez-Angulo's relationship with Blumenschein turned into a "fatal attraction" after he spurned her in favor of Toney, his 10-year live-in girlfriend, with whom he was trying to have children.
Witnesses have testified that Gonzalez-Angulo had access to ethylene glycol at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where she and Blumenschein worked.
But Gonzalez-Angulo's attorneys have argued that other people may be responsible for his poisoning, including Toney.
Blumenschein survived the poisoning but told jurors this week he now only has 40 percent of his kidney function. If convicted, Gonzalez-Angulo, 43, could be sentenced to up to life in prison.
While questioned by prosecutors, Toney told jurors that she did not poison Blumenschein and that despite the affair she still loves him. She said they are still together and are working on their relationship.
"It's a work in progress," she said.
Toney testified that shortly after Blumenschein was hospitalized following his poisoning, he told her that he believed Gonzalez-Angulo had poisoned him. But Toney said he told her to not tell anybody of his suspicions because he feared Gonzalez-Angulo might hurt him again or hurt her.
"At one point, George said, 'Evette, do not poke the dragon,'" Toney said.
Toney testified she helped Blumenschein record telephone conversations he had with Gonzalez-Angulo as part of efforts to try and gather evidence against her. Gonzalez-Angulo did not make a confession on the phone calls, but prosecutors have said they show the obsessive feelings she had toward Blumenschein.
While Gonzalez-Angulo's attorneys questioned Toney, they suggested that Toney had been upset Blumenschein would not marry her.
Toney said that Blumenschein was afraid of marriage and that she had moved out of their home in 2009 because he wouldn't make a long-term commitment. But Toney said the two got back together and focused on the future, including having children.
Gonzalez-Angulo's attorneys suggested Toney got angry with Blumenschein about an affair she had long suspected. Toney said she didn't know about the affair until after Blumenschein told her about it following his poisoning and that she wasn't interested in hurting Blumenschein.
"I didn't follow him. I didn't check his BlackBerry. I trusted him," she said.
Testimony was to resume on Wednesday in the trial, which began Sept. 15. Prosecutors might rest their case on Wednesday.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70