Trial date set in Hudson River kayak murder case

GOSHEN – Angelika Graswald, the Poughkeepsie woman charged with causing her fiance’s death by tampering with his kayak, got a trial date and a decision Tuesday on a potential false-confession defense in Orange County Court.

Jury selection for Graswald’s murder trial will begin on June 13, Judge Robert Freehill told her lawyer, Richard Portale, and Senior Assistant District Attorney David Byrne. Freehill also allowed Portale to move forward with a psychiatric expert to argue that Graswald falsely confessed when she made incriminating admissions to state police investigators in an 11-hour interview session nearly two weeks after Viafore’s death.

Graswald, faces murder and manslaughter charges in Viafore’s April 2015 drowning death. Prosecutors say she removed his kayak’s drain plug and tampered with his paddle so he would swamp and drown.

Portale says Viafore’s death was a tragic accident caused by alcohol, cold water, choppy waves, and his failure to wear a flotation vest.

Portale notified the court and prosecutors just last month that he intended to present the false confession defense, based on an evaluation by forensic psychologist Marc Janoson of Manhasset.

Despite the late notice, Freehill has allowed Portale to go forward. The June trial date will allow time for prosecution experts to review the information.

Byrne asked that Portale provide information on any psychiatric therapies and medications Graswald has been prescribed in the past, and to waive medical confidentiality so prosecutors can get Graswald’s full psychiatric record.

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