A woman accused of killing her fiancé by unplugging his kayak and taking away his paddle last spring has been sentenced to up to four years in prison.
Angelika Graswald, 37, pleaded guilty last summer to criminally negligent homicide in the death of her fiancé, Vincent Viafore, whose body was pulled from the Hudson River in May of 2016. Though her initial account held that Viafore had capsized and disappeared, she later implicated herself in the crime.
Police did not initially suspect Graswald in Viafore’s death, since the circumstances surrounding the case seemed to suggest it was an accident. But when investigators went to search the shore of Bannerman Island, near where Viafore disappeared, they crossed paths with Graswald, allegedly on her way to lay a wreath memorializing his death. Authorities questioned her after she made some suspicious comments. As reported by the Poughkeepsie Journal at the time:
“She said, ‘you know about the (kayak) plug right?’” DeQuarto said. “And I said...tell me about it. She said, ‘what if I did something with the plug. I just wanted to be free. I wanted him gone, I wanted to be myself...I took it (the plug) out.’”
“Did you intentionally remove the plug so he would drown?” DeQuarto said he asked her. “There was a brief moment of silence” and then Graswald told the investigator she did.
She also confessed to taking Viafore’s paddle away from him after his kayak capsized — Viafore was not wearing a life vest and was holding on to the paddle to stay afloat, DeQuarto said.
“I wanted him dead, and now he’s gone and I’m fine with it,” she reportedly said during the interrogation.
In a statement read by her lawyer following the hearing, Graswald said: “I loved Vince very much and miss him terribly. I don’t believe I was treated fairly. This entire process was incredibly one-sided and unjust.” According to the AP, her sentence will span between 16 months and four years.
In July, prosecutors gave up the murder accusation based on their inability to prove a case based on her contradictory statements. In exchange, Graswald pleaded guilty to negligent-homicide. A Latvian native, she could face deportation once her sentence is completed.