NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A woman who claimed her fiancé was missing after his kayak overturned on the Hudson River has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide, New York State Police said.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the two had a relationship that appeared to be full of love and happiness on Facebook, but authorities believed Graswald was responsible for Viafore’s death.
When Viafore’s disappeared, Graswald portrayed herself as the sole survivor of a tragic accident.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the couple was only engaged for a couple weeks when they went out in separate kayaks in April 2015.
Graswald was pulled from the Hudson River after calling 911, saying her fiancé had vanished after both of their kayaks capsized off Cornwall-On-Hudson, in Orange County.
Graswald told police she called 911, then tried to help. She said she fell out of her own kayak and was later rescued by a boater.
Police became suspicious because Viafore, 46, was a good swimmer with a strong passion for water sports.
Prosecutors said 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 40-degree water.
Graswald allegedly told investigators she was happy to know he would die.
Prosecutors said Graswald was hoping to collect $250,000 in life insurance, but Graswald’s attorney claimed Viafore’s death was an accident.
During her guilty plea, Graswald admitted she caused Viafore’s death by removing the plug from his kayak, while knowing that the lock clip to his paddle was missing and that waters were dangerously cold.
Graswald’s trial was set to being in about three weeks. The star witness for the prosecution was a state police investigator who spent long hours talking with her during the search for the victim’s body.
She told the cop she was uncomfortable with the sexual demands from Viafore.
The investigator asked her, ‘Did you remove the plug so he would drown?’
“I guess I did,” she replied.
Prosecutors said the plug was found in Graswald’s car.
“While no outcome can compensate for the loss of a beloved son, brother, and uncle, this disposition will hopefully bring a measure of closure to the Viafore family,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “This plea ensures that the defendant will be held criminally liable for her actions. 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.”
State police said Viafore had made Graswald the beneficiary of his quarter-million dollar life insurance policy.
Many expected a plead deal, but once former homicide prosecutor said the Orange County DA gave up a lot.
“In my opinion they must have had serious reservations about the strength of their case going down from an intentional murder all the way down to criminally negligent homicide,” Try Smith said.
Graswald faces up to four years in prison and could possibly be deported. Her defense attorney said she will likely be released by the end of the year because of time already served.