Woman Accused of Killing Fiance on Hudson River Pleads Not Guilty

The woman accused of killing her fiance by sabotaging his kayak on the Hudson River, then taking his paddle as he struggled to stay afloat, pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges at her arraignment Friday.

A lawyer for Angelika Graswald entered the plea in Orange County Court. Graswald is charged in the April 19 death of Vincent Viafore, whose body was found last weekend in the river near West Point.

Prosecutors say Graswald was hoping to collect $250,000 in life insurance. They say she removed a drain plug from Viafore's kayak, then delayed calling for help and pushed a floating paddle away from him as he struggled in the water. She allegedly told investigators she was happy to know he would die.

"She felt trapped, and it was her only way out," Orange County Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl said at a court hearing this month.

Graswald reported the capsizing as an accident. She said his kayak capsized in choppy, chilly water while he wasn't wearing a life jacket, and she was unable to save him. Graswald, 35, was rescued from the water by another boater and treated for hypothermia.

Graswald's lawyer says he's skeptical of prosecution claims she admitted wrongdoing. Attorney Richard Portale also said he found the indictment to be conflicting, and said he anticipated toxicology reports on Viafore, which he expected would show he had been drinking around the time of his death.

A cause of death for Viafore has yet to be determined. Graswald's defense team said Friday they planned to look at his remains and would consider having an independent autopsy conducted.

Graswald didn't speak at her arraignment. She's being held on $3 million bail.  

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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