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Woman blamed in fiancé's kayaking death leaves prison

Kayaker's 911 call from the Hudson River
Angelika Graswald's 911 call from the Hudson 01:43

GOSHEN, N.Y. -- A woman initially charged with murder in the drowning death of her fiancé during a New York kayak outing has been released from prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Angelika Graswald, 37, of Poughkeepsie, admitted she should have perceived the risk of danger and was sentenced in November to 16 months to four years in prison.

Graswald and 46-year-old Vincent Viafore went kayaking on a choppy Hudson River in April 2015. Prosecutors accused Graswald of removing a drain plug from Viafore's kayak and pushing a floating paddle away from him after his kayak capsized. "48 Hours" investigated the case in the episode, "Death on the Hudson."

State corrections spokesman Thomas Mailey says Graswald is being conditionally released from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility on Thursday.

Graswald has been in prison since her arrest, and it's counted as time served. Prosecutors say she could face deportation to her native Latvia after parole.

Death on the Hudson 43:56

Graswald's attorneys said the death was an accident, caused by high waves, cold water and alcohol. They claimed the plug in the kayak that police say led to his drowning was removed long before the incident. 

They also argued that paddling with the plug removed from the drainage hole -- a small opening on the top of the kayak -- wouldn't have caused Viafore's kayak to fill with a large amount of water.

Kayaking the Hudson: A treacherous trip 01:38

Prosecutors said she did it for his $250,000 life insurance policy.

Graswald later admitted she caused the death of her fiancé by removing the plug from his kayak, knowing that he wasn't wearing a life vest or wetsuit and that the Hudson River waters were dangerous and cold.

Graswald's attorney, Richard Portale, picked her up from the Westchester County prison Thursday afternoon, reports the Poughkeepsie Journal.

"Reconstructing her life is going to be difficult," Portale told the paper. "Her day-to-day, her reality, is much different today than it was 32 months ago when she was in jail."

Kevin Rice, Viafore's brother-in-law, told the paper the plea deal was "bittersweet" and said the family feels she didn't serve enough time.

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