Posted at: 06/12/2013 11:35 AM

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Canadian, nicknamed ’Black Widow,’ gets 3 1/2 years

(AP) SYDNEY, Nova Scotia - A 78-year-old Canadian woman dubbed the "Black Widow" was sentenced Tuesday to 3 1/2 years in prison for drugging her newlywed husband.

The sentence for Melissa Ann Shepard, who pleaded Monday guilty to administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessities of life, will be reduced to two years and nine months because of time served in pretrial custody. Shepard was charged last year after Fred Weeks fell ill at a bed and breakfast while the couple was on a honeymoon.

An agreed statement of facts says Shepard slipped tranquilizers into the 76-year-old man’s coffee and he was later taken to hospital. He survived.

Shepard was convicted of manslaughter in 1992 in the death of her second husband, Gordon Stewart, whom she drugged and ran over twice with a car.

In 2005, Shepard _ who has gone by several other surnames _ was sentenced to five years in prison on seven counts of theft from a man in Florida who she had met online. Alex Strategos, now 81, said she stole $20,000 from him over the month that they lived together.

In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Joseph Kennedy agreed with the prosecution’s argument for a 3 1/2 year prison term less time served, saying Shepard’s criminal past was relevant

Her lawyer argued for a two-year jail term, saying Shepard feels remorseful.

She declined to address the court.

Shepard married Weeks in a civil ceremony last Sept. 25, a few weeks after they met. But their marriage was later declared invalid by the province’s Vital Statistics Division after it said false information was provided on the marriage certificate.

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