Woman Gets Up to 4 Years in Fiance's River Kayaking Death - NBC 6 South Florida
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Woman Gets Up to 4 Years in Fiance's River Kayaking Death

Angelika Graswald pleaded guilty to sabotaging her fiance's kayak on the Hudson River in April 2015

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    The woman who admitted to causing her fiance's death by removing a plug from his kayak has been sentenced. Gus Rosendale reports. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017)

    The 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 prison but could get out much sooner because of time she's already served. 

    Angelika Graswald, 37, was sentenced Wednesday in Orange County Court, where she appeared in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled. She was facing a sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison but will get credit for time served, which has been two years. That means should could be eligible for probation in as little as a month -- which the fiance's mother told News 4 was a miscarriage of justice.

    "As far as I'm concerned, we did not get justice," Mary Ann Viaforte told News 4. 

    Graswald pleaded guilty in July to criminally negligent homicide, weeks before she was set to stand trial on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of 46-year-old Vincent Viafore, of Poughkeepsie. 

    Viafore drowned while the couple was kayaking in April 2015. Graswald, a Latvian national, admitted to pulling out the plug to Viafore's kayak before they set out on the river on a day when conditions were dangerous.

    The judge found Graswald was most negligent when she didn't do anything while Viafore was floundering in the water: "You could have walked out on Vinny if you were unhappy." 

    "You exhibit such exaggerated feelings of self-worth," the judge told Graswald. 

    Relatives spoke at the sentencing as part of victim impact statements; Viafore's sister, Laura Rice, said, "I visualize him trying to survive hypothermia, not understanding why a woman who said she loved him would do this." 

    She said her brother was "loyal, dedicated, brave and fearless" and "full of life."

    "My brother did not deserve having his life end this way," said Rice. 

    The prosecution asked for the maximum sentence of four years; the defense chose not to speak in court, and Graswald herself did not speak. Later, outside court, Graswald's defense attorney read a statement on the woman's behalf.

    "'I'm not a murderer. I've said that from the beginning, and if I could do anything to bring Vince back, I would,'" defense attorney Richard Portale read from Graswald's statement.  

    Portale said he believes Graswald will get parole as early as late December. 

    Viafore's mother and the rest of the family says that's not enough.

    "We do not believe in the sentencing of it all, but it is over now, and we just need to go on," said Steven Mazzola, a cousin of Viafore.

    "Four-year sentence doesn't seem just. Serving a portion of that seem even more unjust," Rice said. 

    Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

    The family said they want Graswald deported after she serves her sentence.

    "I don't ever want to see her again if I don't have to," said Mary Ann Viafore.

    She added, "I just want people to know he was a really good person and he didn't deserve this. I'm sure every mother says that, but it's true."

    The judge said there will be immigration consequences.