GOSHEN, New York - A woman who admitted to causing her fiance's death by removing a plug from his kayak before a Hudson River outing has been sentenced to up to four years in state prison.
Angelika Graswald, 37, received a sentence Wednesday in Orange County Court of 16 to 48 months. After originally being charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, Graswald pleaded guilty in July to the reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Prosecutors say she removed the plug from 46-year-old Vincent Viafore's kayak in April 2015, causing him to drown.
Graswald admitted that she pulled the plug to the kayak, knew the drain plug was out, and that the ring was not on the paddle of Viafore's kayak. She also admitted to knowing that the weather would be dangerous, knew he was drinking, and also that he was not wearing gear which would cause a risk of death that she failed to perceive.
Viafore's family walked out of court disappointed with the realization that Graswald will likely be released next month. Her lawyer, Richard Portale, had said before the sentencing that because Graswald has been in jail since her arrest, she could be released on parole in late December. After the sentencing, he reiterated that estimate outside the courthouse, where he read a statement by Graswald.
"I loved Vince very much and miss him terribly," Portale said while reading from the written statement. "I don't believe I was treated fairly. This entire process was incredibly one-sided and unjust."
Graswald could face deportation to her native Latvia after her sentence is completed, prosecutors said.
Viafore's sister, Laura Rice, remembered him as a special person with a huge heart who was loved by many.
"My brother did not deserve to have his life end this way," she said in a pre-sentence victim impact statement. "Our family feels Angelika should be held accountable for the actions she has admitted to where a short four year sentence does not seem just."
Prosecutors said Graswald plotted to kill Viafore to collect some of the $250,000 from his life insurance policies. After watching him drown, Graswald was rescued by emergency crews and reported her fiance missing. His body was recovered nearly a month later.
By then Graswald was already in jail, charged with murder. The charge came after prosecutors said the missing plug from Viafore's kayak was found in the car Graswald was driving.
"My son was a good man, and everybody loved him," mom Mary Ann Viafore said. "And we miss him very much. I don't ever want to see her again if I don't have to."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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