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Woman Convicted In Fiancee's Death Could Get $500,000 Insurance Payout

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Half-a-million dollars.

That's how much insurance money a woman convicted of criminally negligent homicide could receive even though she was found to have caused her fiance's death.

"There's nothing worse than losing a child, and that is something you will never get over. You have to live with it every day," the victim's mother Mary Ann Viafore said exclusively to CBS2's Marc Liverman.

Now, Viafore and the rest of her family were faced with more anguish in the death of her son Vincent.

The woman who was connected to the man's death in a kayak on the Hudson River -- fiancee Angelika Graswald -- might get some $500,000 from his life insurance policy.

"She got enough money from my son. He supported her, he gave her money every payday, she doesn't deserve the rest of his money. It belongs to the family," she said.

Viafore plans on fighting for it.

"We are going to go through this until the bitter end and make sure she doesn't get a penny of the that insurance policy," she said.

A judge has ordered a hearing to determine if Graswald still has a right to collect that money.

Her hearing is scheduled for February 27, at the Dutchess County Courthouse. CBS2 spoke with her attorney earlier who said that he could not comment on pending litigation.

CBS2's Liverman met with former federal prosecutor Michael Wildes who said when it comes to a civil case like this one, the burden of proof is actually on the victim's family.

"I would say it's an uphill battle for the county and for the family to have to prove this. How do they prove what was in her mind?" Wildes said.

Unlike someone who commits intentional murder or homicide and automatically forfeits any right to inherit from a victim, New York law does not automatically forfeit that right for someone who pleads guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

"This case stands to set a precedent throughout our nation. Nobody should profit from criminal negligence. Yes, she didn't want to purposefully kill him, but she allowed him to die. She should not benefit from this financially," Wildes said.

Graswald served just over 2-and-a-half years in prison and was released last month. In New York the maximum sentence for this type of crime is four years.

Viafore's mother said if the judge doesn't rule in favor of the family they will proceed with a wrongful death suit in civil court.

Graswald could still face deportation to her native Latvia even after last month's hearing.


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