An interesting criminal case has emerged from Orange County, New York where the authorities have charged Angelika Graswald with murder in the death of her fiancé, Vincent Viafore. The case started on April 19,2015 when Ms. Graswald made an emergency 911 call needing help because her and her fiancé hit choppy
waters while kayaking in the Hudson River and had been dumped into the 46 degree water. She was wearing a life vest and her fiancé was not. She was rescued by boaters and in the following search 2 kayaks were found. What has yet to be found is Mr. Viafore. Although the authorities initially believed Ms. Graswald to be the survivor of a horrific tragedy, she was arrested April 29, 2015 and charged with murder, alleging that she intentionally killed her fiancée.
What is so odd about this arrest is not that she was charged with murder without recovering a body. Contrary to popular myth prosecutors can, and do, prosecute and prove murder without a body. What is odd is that apparently all the evidence they have against her are “inconsistent statements.” According to Maj. Patrick Regan of the New York State Police “She made statements that implicated herself in this crime, enough to certainly have reasonable cause to have made the arrest.” The authorities attribute her “most glaring contradictions” to the day before they made the arrest when she went to the scene to lay flowers, bumped into police officers searching the area for clues, and engaged them in conversation.
If the entirety of the State’s evidence is inconsistent statements, I do not see how this case survives a pre-trial motion to dismiss. Under New York’s Corroboration Rule of Criminal Procedure Law § 60.50, “A person may not be convicted of any offense solely upon evidence of a confession or admission made by him without additional proof that the offense charged has been committed.” Here, the evidence as reported does not even rise to the level of a confession or an admission. All the authorities are claiming is that statements from one day to the next are “inconsistent” with each other.
This case stands as a shining example as to why you NEVER talk to the police. In the speeding and auto crime context often motorists statements are not necessary for the state to have a case, because the police officer witnessed the alleged violation. Nonetheless, our office routinely handles cases whereby the statement of the motorist are key to making a case against a motorist. Statement evidence is often required in cases when there was an alleged hit and run, after the fact investigations of passing a stopped school bus, to charge a violation subsequent to an accident, and in DWI cases.
If you find yourself the subject of an auto infraction or criminal investigation at all, DO NOT SPEAK TO THE POLICE! Immediately call our office at 1-877-996-6849 for a free phone consultation.