An Ohio teen who killed her foster mother in November 2012 amid an affair with her foster father has been sentenced to life in prison with a chance for parole in 30 years.
Sabrina Zunich, 19, who pleaded guilty last month to aggravated murder in the stabbing death of 41-year-old Lisa Knoefel in their Cleveland home, testified at the trial of Kevin Knoefel that he had threatened to commit suicide if his wife wasn’t killed, the Daily Mail reports.
Kevin Knoefel, 44, was accused of having a sexual relationship with his foster daughter and showing her how to stab his wife so he could collect $750,000 in life insurance, prosecutors say.
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He received the same sentence as Zunich after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and sexual battery.
“I don't think there was any question she was manipulated and used by the co-defendant,” Judge Richard Collins said at Monday’s sentencing. But the seriousness of the crime outweighed all factors, he said in a video by WKYC-TV.
“Aggravated murder is aggravated murder,” Collins said. “But this was not a single violent act.”
He said Lisa Knoefel suffered before she died.
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“She was screaming for help and begging the defendant to stop. She did not die immediately. I cannot imagine the nature of terror and fear.”
Prosecutors say that Kevin Knoefel wanted his wife gone, but was afraid he would lose custody of their 3-year-old daughter if they divorced.
During the trial, Zunich said that she had fallen in love with her foster father and was afraid he would kill himself if she didn’t kill Lisa Knoefel.
Zunich wore a ski mask before stabbing Knoefel’s wife more than 150 times with a 10-inch knife, prosecutors said.
Knoefel told the girl to make it look like a burglary or hire a hit man. Prosecutors were unaware of Zunich’s sexual relationship with Kevin Knoefel or that he persuaded her to kill his wife until Zunich spoke with them in May 2013.
Zunich, who was 17 at the time of the murder, was given a chance during sentencing to apologize for her actions.
“I want to say how sorry I am for all those I hurt,” she said. “Lisa did not deserve what happened to her. I ask forgiveness be given to me — not for my benefit but for those who need the healing process to begin. I can't explain how much remorse I have and how much sadness I deal with.”