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Woman Accused of Killing Kayaking Fiance on Hudson River Pleads Guilty

Angelika Graswald is accused of removing a drain plug from Vincent Viafore's kayak in April 2015

The woman accused of fatally sabotaging her fiancé's kayak on the Hudson River has pleaded guilty in the case. 

Angelika Graswald entered a guilty plea to criminally negligent homicide, a felony that could see her imprisoned for 1 1/3 to four years, according to her defense attorney. The time that she has been incarcerated in the case would count toward the sentence she serves, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said. 

The Orange County District Attorney agreed to the sentence in exchange for the plea, saying it gives closure to Viafore's family. 

"By pleading guilty the defendant has acknowledged that Vincent Viafore's death was not simply a tragic accident, but the result of this defendant's criminal conduct," Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said.

Graswald's attorney said will likely be a free woman in just five months, an outrage to Poughkeepsie residents who have been following the case.

"Murder is murder. Taking a life is taking a life," Leroy Bowen of Poughkeepsie said. "There's no excuse for it and you have to pay the penalty."

Graswald is accused of removing a drain plug from Viafore's kayak in April 2015 and pushing a floating paddle away from him after his kayak capsized 50 miles north of New York City. Graswald was charged with murder, to which she previously pleaded not guilty.

Viafore's body was found floating a month later about a mile downriver. Viafore, 46, had not been wearing a life jacket, authorities said.

She was the one who called 911 and posted Facebook messages about the search, but a Cornwall police officer testified last summer that Graswald appeared calm and emotionless when she was rescued. 

Graswald told another investigator she had pulled a plug on Viafore's kayak and manipulated the ring on his paddle, state police senior investigator Aniello Moscato testified.

Neither prosecutors nor the defense were able to previously comment due to a gag order. Prosecutors said after her arrest that Graswald had been hoping to collect $250,000 in life insurance

The defense had maintained Viafore's death was accidental and her guilty plea only means she admits causing his death, but still maintains it wasn't intentional. Graswald previously denied murder and manslaughter charges. 

"She should do the time," Myrian Hernandez of Poughkeepsie said. "The family of that person, don't they get justice?" 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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