A New York woman who admitted to causing her fiancé’s drowning death during a kayaking trip on the Hudson River has been sentenced to up to four years in prison.
Angelika Graswald, 37, received the maximum sentence allowed Wednesday after pleading guilty to negligent homicide in the death of Vince Viafore, who was killed when his kayak capsized and disappeared on April 19, 2015.
Viafore’s kayak began sinking during the expedition after investigators say Graswald secretly removed a drain plug.
He was not wearing a life vest or a wetsuit during the trip. His body was recovered more than a month later, on May 23, 2015.
Graswald was arrested and originally charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in what prosecutors called a plot to kill her fiancé to collect some of the $250,000 from his life insurance policies.
During a 12-hour taped police interrogation 10 days after Viafore disappeared, Graswald repeatedly denied killing him. She also said she was “OK” with Viafore’s death and “wanted him dead.”
Graswald in July agreed to plead guilty to the lesser felony charge of negligent homicide.
The plea deal came weeks before Graswald was set to go to trial and in it, she admitted she should have perceived the risks and dangers of going out on the water that day.
Viafore’s family was in court for the sentencing hearing and shared how much they loved their relative and how his death has affected their lives.
"My brother did not deserve to have his life end this way," Viafore's sister, Laura Rice, said. "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... The world lost a truly amazing person and we can never get him back.”
Graswald has always maintained that she never meant to kill Viafore.
“I loved Vince very much and miss him terribly,” Graswald said in a statement to the court through her lawyer, Richard Portale. “I don’t believe I was treated fairly. This entire process was incredibly one-sided and unjust.”
Graswald has been in prison since her arrest in 2015.
She may be out of prison as early as this December, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.
After completing 16 months of parole, Graswald, a native of Latvia and a permanent U.S. permanent resident, may face deportation, prosecutors said. That would fall to the discretion of a federal judge.