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Crime

Trial for Angelika Graswald, Accused of Kayak Murder of Fiancé, Set for Valentine's Day

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Graswald
Allyse Pulliam/Times Herald-Record/AP

A New York judge today set Valentine’s Day as the start of the trial for Angelika Graswald, accused of killing fiance Vincent Viafore while on a kayaking trip in April of 2015, according multiple reports.

Orange County Court Judge Robert Freehill also ruled that prosecutors will be allowed to use most of an 11-hour police interrogation videotape of Graswald allegedly confessing to the murder. They will also be allowed to use most other statements Graswald made to police before her arrest on April 29, 2015, according to The Poughkeepsie Journal.

Freehill won’t allow one piece of the video statement: When a Russian translator enters the interrogation room at a state police barracks and speaks to Graswald (who is a native of Latvia), because the conversation wasn’t translated, according to The Times-Herald Record.

Other statements Graswald made to police before her arrest will be admissible if she testifies, according to reports.

Freehill ruled Friday on testimony given in Graswald’s five-day pre-trial hearing in June, called a Huntley Hearing. The purpose of the Huntley Hearing is to review the manner in which the police obtained statements from Graswald.

Graswald’s attorney, Richard Portale, had sought to suppress her statements to police

Graswald is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Viafore, whose body was recovered from the Hudson River in mid-May of last year. Prosecutors say Graswald removed a nickle-sized drain plug on the top of the kayak to allow it to fill with water and become unstable.

Portale maintains Viafore died accidentally when his kayak capsized and he fell into the cold and rough waters. Prosecutors have said Graswald would have collected $250,000 in life insurance benefits from his death.

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Around 4 p.m. on April 19, 2015, Graswald, 36, and Viafore, 46, had set out kayaking in the Hudson River from the mainland to Bannerman Island in fairly calm waters. On their return trip around 7 p.m. the seas became turbulent, with waves, currents and wind, and Viafore capsized.

Kayaking and hypothermia experts have told PEOPLE that it was a dangerous day for Viafore to be out on 46-degree waters without a life jacket or wet suit, and that the kayaks Viafore and Graswald used were not suited to handle the turbulent Hudson.

Experts have also told PEOPLE that the amount of water entering a small hole on the top of the kayak could be minimal compared to the amount of water splashing into Viafore’s open cockpit.

In three jailhouse interviews with PEOPLE, Graswald has maintained her innocence.

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Freehill set Feb. 14 for the start of jury selection, and noted that a large jury pool will be called, according to the Times Herald-Record.

Graswald will return to Orange County Court on Jan. 23 for a pretrial conference.