Orange County Sheriff's Department/Zuma Press
November 17, 2014 01:20 PM

After being convicted of the murder of his wife in September, Paul Curry was sentenced in a Santa Ana, California, courtroom to life in prison without parole on Friday.

The former San Onofre nuclear plant worker, now 57, was found guilty of injecting his wife, Linda Curry, with a lethal dose of nicotine in June 1994 to collect more than $500,000 in life-insurance money.

Though police initially questioned Curry in 1994 regarding his wife’s death, they were unable to charge him until a new investigation was launched in 2007.

“I begged her to leave him before it was too late,” Linda’s friend Merry Seabold told PEOPLE shortly after the jury delivered its verdict.

During the trial, Curry’s second wife, Leslie Curry, testified that she suffered from a “debilitating” illness during the final year of her marriage.

She left Curry and immediately started feeling better. “It happened pretty quickly,” she told the court.

Leslie insisted that she never suspected that her husband was trying to poison her, though she did find it odd when he suggested they both get life-insurance policies.

“He’d never spoken about it before,” she said.

In Linda’s case, Curry waited only until the day after her funeral before he began requesting payments from her life-insurance provider.

“Linda Curry was for him nothing more than a paycheck,” Assistant District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh told jurors during Curry’s trial. “He was greedy, wanted money and for that he killed his wife.”

In a witness-impact statement delivered Friday, Linda’s niece Rickianne Rycraft recalled the pain of watching her aunt die.

“We know that Linda was slowly poisoned,” she said, according to the Orange County Register. “He tortured her.”

Curry showed no emotion as his sentence was read, according to the paper.

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