Timeline of events in the New York kayak murder case
Courtesy Lipska Family(NEW YORK) — Angelika Graswald, a 37-year-old Latvian native who was accused of killing her fiancé during a 2015 kayaking trip on the Hudson River in New York, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of negligent homicide Monday.
Graswald was originally charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in 2015 and had pleaded not guilty to both charges. Weeks before the case was set to go to trial, Graswald reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to the lesser felony charge. She has always maintained she never intended to kill Viafore and that his death was a tragic accident.
Here is a timeline highlighting some of the key events in this mysterious case:
Aug. 15, 2000
Graswald comes to the United States from Latvia to work as a nanny. Graswald told ABC News “20/20” in a 2015 interview that she “came originally for a year. But I ended up staying. You know, they say that there is a one-way ticket to America and that was my case.”
Sept. 22, 2013
Graswald and Viafore meet and begin to date. She moves in with him weeks after their meeting and five months later, they get engaged.
April 19, 2015, approximately 4:15 p.m.
Graswald told “20/20” in 2015 that at approximately 4:15 p.m., she and Viafore embarked on a kayaking trip on the Hudson River from Plum Point to Bannerman’s Island. Both enjoyed kayaking, but this was the first time the two had kayaked this part of the river. Graswald told “20/20” they made it safely to Bannerman’s Island when the weather turned.
Cutting their trip short because of the weather, Graswald told “20/20” that they headed back to Plum Point. Prosecutors allege that around 7:15 p.m., Viafore’s kayak sunk and he fell into the 48-degree water. He was not wearing a life vest or a wet suit.
Kayaking expert Todd Wright told “20/20” in a 2015 interview that, “After that first five minutes, Vince is starting to lose gross motor control, he’s starting to lose the ability to grab.” Viafore’s chance of survival becomes very low.
April 19, 2015, 7:40 p.m.
Graswald calls 911, alerting authorities that her fiancé had fallen into the water and that they needed help. Graswald is rescued and brought to shore. Authorities were unable to rescue or even locate Viafore.
April 20, 2015
Viafore’s blue kayak is found near Plum Point, where the trip began. Shortly thereafter, the search is suspended due to bad weather.
April 29, 2015, 12:35 p.m.
Graswald gives an oral statement to detectives on Bannerman’s Island while paying tribute to Viafore.
April 29, 2015, 3:25 p.m.
Graswald begins an 11-hour interrogation with police at the New York State Police Montgomery Barracks. In it, she claims Viafore was controlling, always demanding sex, even pushing for threesomes, which she told police never happened. Graswald admits to wanting Viafore to die but denies throughout the interview that she killed him.
“I wanted him dead and now he’s gone and I’m OK with it,” Graswald tells police at one point during the interrogation.
April 30, 2015
Graswald is arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
May 23, 2015
Viafore’s body is recovered from the Hudson River near West Point, approximately one mile from Plum Point.
May 26, 2015
An Orange County Grand Jury indicts Graswald for murder in the second degree and manslaughter in the second degree.
June 27, 2015
A funeral service is held for Viafore at St. Martin de Porres Church in Poughkeepsie.
Graswald remains in custody at the Orange County Jail awaiting trial. A judge issued a gag order on the case, telling the prosecution and the defense they can no longer speak with the media or share any aspects of the case.
Todd Wright, a kayaking expert, tells “20/20” in a 2015 interview that he believes there was a cascade of poor decision-making that resulted in Viafore’s death: Viafore was not wearing a life jacket, had improper clothing given the temperature of the water and was in the wrong type of kayak for that type of water. Neither Viafore nor Graswald were properly trained in rescue, Wright adds.
Nov. 6, 2015
Graswald sat down with ABC News’ “20/20” for her first television interview, which aired on Friday, Nov. 6 at 10 p.m.. In it, she maintains her innocence. “I’m being accused of something that I’m not even capable of doing,” she said.
When asked about her shocking statements to the police in her interrogation, Graswald explains she was misunderstood. In response to her comments about wanting to be free from Viafore, she told “20/20,” “What I meant was I wanted to be free from the lifestyle that we had, the nightlife, the strip clubs, the threesomes. I didn’t want any part of that, I wanted to be free from that. But as far as he goes, I wanted to be with him.”
Graswald told “20/20” she was at her “breaking point” during the taped interrogation.
“They kept me asking me the same questions like a hundred times. I knew that I was innocent,” Graswald said at the time. “I was at my breaking point … I just gave them what they wanted.”
At the time, she said she wanted people to know, “I’m not, I’m not a killer. I’m a good person.”
Investigators testify at Graswald’s five-day pre-trial hearing, called a Huntley Hearing, to determine whether statements the police obtained from Graswald are admissible in court.
A state police investigator testified that Graswald told him she took her fiance’s paddle after he capsized and held it while he begged her to call 911. Another police investigator testified that Graswald told a detective during a meeting on Bannermann’s Island that she had removed a plug on Viafore’s kayak.
The defense argued that Graswald was not read her Miranda Rights prior to the unrecorded conversation she had with detectives on Bannerman’s Island, and police allege Graswald became a suspect only after that meeting.
Dec. 16, 2016
Orange County Court Judge Robert Freehill sets the start date for jury selection in Graswald’s trial for Valentine’s Day 2017. The judge rules that prosecutors will be allowed to use most of the 11-hour police interrogation in court.
After multiple delays, Graswald’s trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 15, 2017.
July 24, 2017
Graswald reaches an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to the lesser felony charge of negligent homicide. She admits she should have perceived the risks associated with being out on the water that day. She has always maintained she never intended to kill Viafore.
District Attorney David Hoovler said in a statement that the agreement was made in consultation with the Viafore family, saying, “This plea ensures that the defendant will be held criminally liable for her actions.”
Graswald is expected to be sentenced on Nov. 1, 2017. She could be released by late December.
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