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An Arizona newspaper publisher who repetitively claimed that his ex-wife tried to kill him with rat poison has dropped lawsuits against her ahead of a trial that was scheduled to start this week.

Associated Press reported that Joseph Soldwedel, 69, sued Felice Aspiranti, 66, amid a bitter divorce after police found no evidence of his claim that she tried to kill him. Prosecutors in Yavapai County declined to file criminal charges.

Soldwedel runs Western News and Info Inc., which owns or partially owns a dozen newspapers, including the Daily Courier in Prescott, the Daily Miner in Kingman, the Navajo-Hopi Observer and Today’s News-Herald in Lake Havasu City.

Soldwedel used his newspapers to publicize his claims, detailing allegations that Aspiranti slipped poison into his food that affected his health.

However, he was unsuccessful in trying to introduce his poisoning allegations into the divorce proceedings. Soldwedel argued Aspiranti married him for his money in her attempt to annul their marriage and invalidate the prenuptial agreement that guaranteed Aspiranti would receive $900,000 if the couple divorced and $1 million if he died. A court upheld them.

Soldwedel then accused Aspiranti of defamation, and she countersued. He sought $18 million from his ex-wife in the alleged poisoning lawsuit and $2 million in his defamation case against her, her family and a friend. Aspiranti believed that the lawsuits were an act of vengeance for her wanting to end the marriage because she believed that Soldwedel was harassing or stalking her.

But, as Thursday’s trial date neared, Soldwedel agreed to drop his claims and Aspiranti, in turn, dropped hers, reported ABC News. The publisher attributed his decision partly to his age and wanting to focus more on his health, family and his career. He also wanted closure for his peace of mind. However, a judge signed off on the deal last month, saying the lawsuits cannot be refiled and called off the trial.

Soldwedel’s attorney, Jay Bloom, said the possibility that the case would have been heard by a judge or judicial panel first and not a jury, under an alternative dispute resolution program established for civil trials amid the pandemic, also factored into Soldwedel’s decision to drop his claims.

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