A woman who spent two and a half years behind bars after being convicted over the death of her partner while kayaking in New York has spoken out on television for the first time since her release.
In April 2015, Angelika Graswald was kayaking with her fiancé, Vincent Viafore, on the Hudson River. But their trip took a dark turn when Mr Viafore’s kayak capsized in the rough and frigid water and the 46-year-old—who was not wearing a life jacket—drowned.
As The New York Times reports, prosecutors accused Ms Graswald of sabotaging her partner’s kayak by removing the plug from it.
Ms Graswald was charged with murder in the second degree and manslaughter in the second degree and pleaded not guilty, but later reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.
In an interview with ABC's 20/20, Ms Graswald says she pleaded guilty to the less charge in order to avoid a life sentence. But she insists she’s innocent.
“They said, ‘Take the plea and get out in December,’” the 35-year-old from Latvia explained. “I went that way because everything is taken as a package.”
Ms Graswald said she is now hoping to move on from her partner’s death.
“I have to let it go. I can’t live with that all the time … I have to let it go,” she said. “The truth is it happened. It did. So I have to live with it.”
Ms Graswald—who has been dubbed the ‘kayak killer’ by some media—was released from prison on December 21, 2017. She is also facing a possible deportation to Latvia.
Her mother and sister believe Ms Graswald has gotten away with murder, although she insists: “They can say whatever they want. I know the truth, God knows the truth”.
The family of Mr Viafore are fighting to ensure Ms Graswald does not receive any life insurance money, which amounts to US$500,000 (A$632,450).
Ms Graswald said any funds she received would go straight towards her legal fees.
“I signed a paper that said that if they (her lawyers) do win, the money, it goes straight to my legal team, because they deserve it,” she told 20/20.