Graswald due in court Thursday
State police said Angelika Graswald confessed to killing her fiance, Vincent Viafore, during a Hudson River kayaking trip in 2015.
And a pretrial hearing — the outcome of which might be decided Thursday — will determine whether a trial jury gets to see footage of an 11-hour interrogation video, in which Graswald allegedly tells state police that she intentionally tampered with Viafore’s kayak, knowing he would drown.
Another issue to be determined is whether a jury will hear about Graswald’s original confession to police, which allegedly took place on Bannerman Island.
Graswald, 36, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Viafore’s death. She is accused of killing the 46-year-old Poughkeepsie man during a kayaking trip the couple took to Bannerman on April 19, 2015.
Graswald’s Huntley hearing was held in June in the Orange County Court before Judge Robert Freehill.
A Huntley hearing is a pretrial hearing held to “review the manner in which police obtained statements from the defendant,” according to legal definitions. Before a confession can be submitted to a trial jury, the judge must find that it was voluntary beyond a reasonable doubt.
Over the five-day hearing, prosecutors from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Graswald’s defense attorneys questioned seven witnesses, including police investigators.
The defense has moved to suppress Graswald’s interrogation video, according to Journal archives.
State police Investigator Donald DeQuarto said Graswald originally confessed on Bannerman, 10 days after Viafore’s kayak capsized. Police were there to “search the shoreline” — Viafore’s body was still missing at that point — and Graswald was there to lay down a memorial wreath of flowers for Viafore, DeQuarto testified in June.
Graswald told DeQuarto that she had pulled a plug out of Viafore’s kayak and tampered with his paddle, knowing he would drown, because “she wanted to be free … he had trapped her” and made sexual demands of her that she didn’t want to comply with, the investigator testified.
She also confessed to taking Viafore’s paddle away from him after his kayak capsized — Viafore was not wearing a life vest and was holding on to the paddle in an effort to stay afloat, DeQuarto said.
After her Bannerman confession, Graswald willingly went with police to the Montgomery barracks, DeQuarto said. At the barracks, Graswald was read her Miranda rights and confessed again during an interview, the investigator testified.
The Huntley hearing ended on June 21. A decision was originally scheduled for July 28.
On July 27, a motion was filed to reopen the hearing, according to information on the state Unified Court System website. That motion is classified as “reserved,” which means the judge has not yet ruled on it (as of Wednesday).
Thursday’s appearance is listed as a “hearing decision” on the court calendar.
Graswald was officially charged with Viafore’s murder on April 30, 2015, and she was placed in Orange County Jail on a $3 million bail or $9 million bond.
Prosecutors have alleged Viafore’s life insurance was one of Graswald’s motives for murder. As primary beneficiary on Viafore’s two policies, Graswald stood to collect $250,000 in the event of his death.
Graswald’s defense team maintains that Viafore’s death was an accident.
His body was found May 23, 2015, in the Hudson River.
More on the case
Nina Schutzman: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-451-4518, Twitter: @pojonschutzman
Source: Poughkeepsie Journal
Graswald due in court Thursday