A woman who once reported her fiance missing after his kayak capsized on a frigid Hudson River pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide on Monday, admitting she pulled the plug on his kayak so it would fill with water, prosecutors said.
Angelika Graswald, 37, also admitted that she knew he was not wearing a life vest or wet suit and that the locking clip to his paddle was missing, putting her husband-to-be in grave danger, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler’s office said in a statement.
The body of Vincent Viafore, 46, was eventually recovered from the river near the site of the incident, about 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City.
Graswald initially said she and Viafore, of Poughkeepsie, New York, were kayaking on the Hudson on April 19, 2015, when choppy waters caused Viafore’s kayak to capsize and she never saw him again, according to a police press statement.
The plug to the kayak was found in Graswald’s car, prosecutors said.
Graswald was arrested 11 days after the incident upon giving inconsistent statements to police, Hoovler said at the time.
According to video aired by CBS News in September 2015, she admitted to the crime in her police questioning, saying, “I wanted him dead, and now he’s gone.”
Later she recanted in a jailhouse interview with ABC News, saying she buckled to relentless interrogation.
“I was at my breaking point … I just gave them what they wanted,” she told ABC in November 2015.
“I didn’t kill him … I loved him,” Graswald said. “I’m not a killer. I’m a good person.”
In the end, she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after having been indicted for second-degree murder and manslaughter.
She is due to be sentenced on Nov. 1.
“This plea agreement was entered into after extensive consultation with the victim’s family, who understand the reasons for the plea agreement,” the statement from Hoovler’s office said.
Hoovler had accused Graswald of moving the paddle away from Viafore as he struggled to stay afloat with water temperatures around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).
Prosecutors said Graswald stood to benefit by $250,000 from Viafore’s life insurance policies.
A legal U.S. resident who was born in Latvia, Graswald could be deported as a result of her conviction, a decision that will ultimately be made by a U.S. judge, prosecutors said.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Toni Reinhold)