State Police Were 'Bullying' Kayaker Charged with Murdering Fiancé, Witness Testifies

The pretrial hearing for Angelika Graswald, charged in drowning death of Vincent Viafore, concluded Tuesday


An attorney for Angelika Graswald, the woman accused of drowning her fiancé during a kayaking trip last year, said in court Tuesday that his client was bleeding and may have miscarried during a grueling 11-hour questioning at a State Police barracks, Westchester News 12 and other outlets report.

Meanwhile, a witness testified that police were “bullying” Graswald shortly after the fatal trip.

Graswald faces murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Vince Viafore, 46, who drowned as the couple kayaked from Bannerman Island in the Hudson River back to the mainland on April 19, 2015. Viafore was not wearing a life jacket when he capsized into the rough 46-degree waters, which experts have told PEOPLE can cause almost immediate hypothermia.

Tuesday marked the final day of Graswald’s pretrial hearing, and testimony also revealed that during the videotaped questioning on April 29, 2015, and into the early morning hours of April 30, Graswald allegedly admitted to investigators that she tampered with fiancé Viafore’s kayak while knowing that would cause his death, reports The Poughkeepsie Journal.

State police investigator Donald DeQuarto also said on the stand that Graswald was advised of her Miranda Rights – her right to remain silent and her right to an attorney – at the start of the 11-hour questioning, but not after that, reports The Times Herald-Record.

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Her attorney, Richard Portale, said that seven hours into the interrogation, Graswald asked what were Miranda Rights, according to The Poughkeepsie Journal.

DeQuarto has testified that Graswald admitted to him during a private conversation on Bannerman Island on April 29 – less than two weeks after Viafore’s death – that she removed the drain plug from Viafore’s kayak, tampered with a ring on his paddle to cause him to capsize, and that, once he was in the frigid, choppy waters, pulled the paddle away from him as he struggled for life.

DeQuarto testified Monday that Viafore’s desire to have threesomes and other sexual demands made Graswald “feel trapped.”

The pretrial hearing was held to determine if Graswald s admissions were voluntary and can be used at trial. An Orange County, New York, judge is expected to make a decision on the statements July 28, according to reports.

Portale has been trying to establish that police prematurely zeroed in on Graswald as a suspect. He questioned DeQuarto about a volunteer who had stopped by while investigators were with Graswald on the island, according to reports.

Portale called witness Susan McCardelle, who volunteers as a gardener at Bannerman and who knew Graswald, according to reports.

McCardelle testified that police were “bullying” Graswald on the island that day before she went off with DeQuarto and made the alleged confession, according to reports.

That afternoon, three investigators and Graswald were sitting on a trail, with Graswald in tears, McCardell told the court.

“It was obvious to me she should not be alone with these three men talking to her like that,” McCardell said, according to The Poughkeepsie Journal. When she asked Graswald if she needed help, one investigator replied: “She doesn’t really need you, it’s okay,” McCardell told the court, according to the newspaper.

McCardell checked in with a tearful Graswald several times that afternoon, and each time Graswald said she was okay, McCardell said, according to reports.

Prosecutors have said Graswald would have collected $250,000 in life insurance benefits from Viafore’s death. Portale maintains Viafore died accidentally when his kayak capsized.

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