New York kayak murder case: Woman pleads guilty to negligent homicide in fiance death

Angelika Graswald was accused of killing her fiance during a kayaking trip.

ByABC News
July 24, 2017, 3:44 PM

— -- A woman 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 today.

Angelika Graswald and her fiancé, 46-year-old Vince Viafore, were kayaking on the Hudson River on April 19, 2015, when his boat capsized and he disappeared, authorities said. Graswald was arrested and charged a few weeks later. Viafore's body was recovered on May 23, 2015.

Graswald, 37-year-old Latvian native, 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 of negligent homicide, in which she admitted she should have perceived the risks of the dangers out on the water that day. She has always maintained she never intended to kill Viafore.

District Attorney David Hoovler said in a statement today 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.

Prosecutors claimed Graswald removed a plug from Viafore's kayak, causing the kayak to take on water and sink.

In a nearly 12-hour taped interrogation by police 10 days after Viafore disappeared, Graswald repeatedly denied killing her fiancé and said her desperate calls to 911 were real. She also said during that interrogation, in which she practiced various yoga poses, that she was “OK” with Viafore's death and “wanted him dead.”

Graswald told ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas in a November 2015 jailhouse interview that 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 told Vargas at the time. "I was at my breaking point ... I just gave them what they wanted."

She also denied to ABC News' "20/20" that she had removed the plug from Viafore’s kayak with the intent to kill him, saying, “No, I did not.”

"I didn't kill him. ... I loved him," Graswald said. "I'm not a killer. I'm a good person."

ABC News' Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.