Brian Kozlowski, center, seen here at his Aug. 1 sentencing with his attorney, Brian Legghio, was charged last year with one count of poisoning. His ex-wife said that Kozlowski added the contents of eight sleeping pills to her coffee daily over a period of several weeks last summer.

Brian Kozlowski, center, seen here at his Aug. 1 sentencing with his attorney, Brian Legghio, was charged last year with one count of poisoning. His ex-wife said that Kozlowski added the contents of eight sleeping pills to her coffee daily over a period of several weeks last summer.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Man sentenced for poisoning wife’s coffee in Macomb Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published August 2, 2019

 Brian Kozlowski, who lived in Macomb Township at the time he reportedly poisoned his then-wife, was sentenced to five years of probation and 60 days in jail Aug. 1.

Brian Kozlowski, who lived in Macomb Township at the time he reportedly poisoned his then-wife, was sentenced to five years of probation and 60 days in jail Aug. 1.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Darra Slanec, left, visiting judge Anthony Viviano, defendant Brian Kozlowski and attorney Brian Legghio appear in court Aug. 1 at Kozlowski’s sentencing.

Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Darra Slanec, left, visiting judge Anthony Viviano, defendant Brian Kozlowski and attorney Brian Legghio appear in court Aug. 1 at Kozlowski’s sentencing.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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MOUNT CLEMENS – A man who prosecutors say intentionally tampered with his wife’s coffee has learned his fate.

Brian Kozlowski, of Mount Clemens, was sentenced to five years of probation and 60 days in the Macomb County Jail Aug. 1 by visiting 16th Circuit Court Judge Anthony Viviano.  

In June, the 46-year-old ex-husband pleaded no contest to poisoning his ex-wife. They were married at the time of the incident and going through a divorce.

In 2018, Kozlowski was charged with one count of poisoning-food/drink/medicine/water supply, a 15-year felony. The poisonings, which took place over multiple weeks last summer, occurred at the former couple’s Macomb Township home.

As part of the sentencing, Kozlowski will serve jail time on weekends only beginning Aug. 2.  

“In July of 2018, the victim felt tired, nauseous and was experiencing blurred vision soon after consuming coffee on the days that the defendant prepared it for her,” a Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office press release states.

In May 2018, Kozlowski’s wife had filed for divorce, which was finalized in 2019. The ex-couple was married for 22 years. 

“The victim’s suspicions as to the actions of her husband prompted her to have cameras installed in the kitchen,” the release states. “The videos revealed the defendant, on multiple occasions pouring Diphenhydramine into his then wife’s morning coffee, intentionally poisoning her.”

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of natural chemical histamine in the body, drugs.com indicates.

The release indicates the last coffee that Kozlowski made for the victim was analyzed and contained 127 milliliters of diphenhydramine, the equivalent of 4.29 fluid ounces. 

In December 2018, the case was assigned to 16th Circuit Court Chief Judge James Biernat Jr., but after failed attempts by two separate defense attorneys to receive a plea deal, the case was transferred to Viviano, who is retired.

Viviano said it was a difficult case and that he was moved by the victim’s statement.

“She did suffer because of the actions of this man,” he said. “He has to accept that responsibility. Whatever she did, she didn’t deserve that.”

The criminal guidelines for Kozlowski’s charged offense was a minimum of 19 to 38 months in prison. 

Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Darra Slanec argued that Kozlowski preplanned the poisonings by purchasing sleep-aid pills, crushing them up, microwaving the pills so they would dissolve, and stirring it in the coffee.

 

The victim’s statement 

The victim provided a 20-minute statement at the sentencing, beginning with a story of a drive to work to Detroit on June 14, 2018. While she spoke, Kozlowski stared straight ahead, never moving his head or looking at her.

“I was fighting the urge to fall asleep at the wheel toward the end of my commute,” she said. “The highway curves under a bridge, and as I entered the curve, I was headed toward the cement wall at the end of the curve and kept telling myself to slow down, but my body was not reacting. Suddenly, my car jolted as I woke up and hit the brakes.”

Prior to leaving for work, the victim drank a cup of coffee prepared by Kozlowski. She didn’t understand why she was feeling drowsy.

A couple of weeks later, her mind wandered to the possibility that Kozlowski was contributing to her not feeling well.

“To think the guy I fell in love with at 16 and had three beautiful children with would endanger my life was unbelievable,” she said.

Wanting to eliminate the possibility that Kozlowski was contributing to her situation, she figured that if he was adding anything to her food or drink, the only daily items she consumed would be coffee, water or red wine.

After some detective work, she resolved that coffee was the potential carrier of the poison.

She continued pouring coffee in her mug and taking it to work, but now she wouldn’t drink it. Instead, she would place the coffee in a bag to get it tested. 

To figure out what Kozlowski apparently was poisoning her with, she installed cameras in the kitchen. She soon found that he was microwaving a shot glass with a blue liquid in it. 

A little while later, the victim saw that Kozlowski poured himself a cup of coffee and then took the blue substance, poured it in the pot and swirled it, for her to consume.

Knowing there was more to Kozlowski’s process, she wanted to figure it out.

“Over the next four weeks, I watched him perform the same routine each morning, even on Saturdays before he left for work,” she said. “I continued to pour my coffee in the morning and bagged it for evidence.”

Knowing that he was placing capsules in a shot glass to microwave, she said she searched for capsules and found a bottle of sleeping pills in a bathroom.

She said she discovered that for several weeks, Kozlowski was adding eight sleeping pills to her coffee. 

An adult recommended dosage, according to the package, she said, was one pill.

She said Kozlowski stated to his family that the only reason he poisoned her during the divorce was so that she would get tired at work and return home to him.

“I believe to put eight times the adult recommended dosage in a coffee pot everyday for several weeks is the type of methodical and calculated predatory behavior that one displays when they want to seriously harm or kill someone,” she stated.

Adding pills to her coffee wasn’t the only time he tampered with his wife’s drinks, according to her statement. She said that their daughter later told her that Kozlowski would put the drug Adderall into the victim’s vodka drinks when the couple was out boating. He also reportedly crushed up laxatives in her protein drinks, she said.

“Brian has destroyed our family and taken any chance of us being a functional divorced family,” she said. 

The victim said she concluded that premeditation was involved in her ex-husband’s plan and that this was a case of attempted murder.

 

The defendant speaks

Kozlowski’s attorney, Brian Legghio, said he doesn’t see recidivistic behavior with his client and that his client is sorry for what he did.

“He was clinically diagnosed with depression and the doctor characterized some of his behaviors as being emotionally traumatized,” Legghio said. “He did a regretably stupid, heinous act; that doesn’t mean he should lose his entire life.” 

Kozlowski, who has lived with his son in Mount Clemens for over a year, made a short statement in court.

“I am truly sorry for what I did and would deeply like to apologize to my ex-wife and my family for everything I have done,” he said.

Shortly after the sentence was announced, Slanec told Viviano that it was a “slap in the face.” Viviano responded that he doesn’t allow counsel to comment after a sentencing is read. Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said that his office will be appealing the sentence.

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