Sunday, November 1, 2009

Woman sentenced to life without parole for burning death of husband

A Wells, ME woman who killed her husband by burning his while he was asleep was sentenced to life without parole on Thursday, October 29. Kimberly Spampinato, 42, killed her husband Chris, 39 because he wanted a divorce, and was cheating on her with a Texas woman, according to prosecutors. Kim plead guilty to 1st degree murder in August, and was sentenced to 30 years concurrently for 1st degree arson.

York County Justice Paul Fritzsche imposed the maximum sentence for both counts because “In this case, the person was murdered in a way that was particularly cruel … and unusually horrible...There is only one sentence that can be imposed.” Kim had written letters to her victim's family members claiming that she had killed seven other people. An excerpt said that “Killing your brother was fun; it still puts a smile on my face; I only wish I could’ve made the pain last longer.”

Her lack of an apology or remorse during the sentencing hearing was also an aggravating factor.

On Jan. 8, while Christopher slept, Kimberly Spampinato doused him and rolled up newspapers in gasoline, setting the paper and her husband on fire in his Wells apartment, said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, a state prosecutor in the case.

Christopher ran out of the apartment and was found by police badly burned and sitting in a snow bank that night, she said. He died nine days later on Jan. 17 in the burn unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to court records.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese asked for a sentence of 55 years to life for Spampinato. She said Thursday in court that extreme cruelty was evident in the case because Christopher was alive for a period of time and conscious while he waited for an ambulance to arrive and during the ambulance ride. “He must have known he was going to die,” she said.

Premeditation was also evident, said Marchese, as Spampinato purchased gas in the afternoon of the murder, had to roll out the newspaper, drench the bed with gas and light it afire.

Marchese described the murder as “domestic violence at its worst,” as Christopher had decided to leave the relationship and Kimberly felt she was losing control. “People should be able to leave a relationship safely,” she said. “She presents a real danger to society.”

The victim's mother, Ann Cabot, said about her former daughter-in-law, “This sick, violent individual should not be allowed the privilege of taking another breath.”

Chris' sister, Jennifer Cabot stated that "Sometimes I can wake up and smell the burn unit where I watched him die slowly." She wanted to remember her brother for the "amazing person that he was...True justice would be the end of Kim’s life in the same manner she ended Chris’ life,” she concluded.
Donald Stevens, who was married to Kimberly Spampinato for 18 years, spoke at length during the hearing, delineating years of abuse that he and his son experienced from her. “There were nights when I would be awoken with the touch of a knife blade to my throat,” he said. “In my case, I was lucky enough to be awake to defend myself.”

Stevens said that Spampinato “loves to control and manipulate any way she can” and said he would fear for his family if she were ever to be let out of prison.“We want to go on with our lives and not go on looking over our shoulder,” said Stevens. “If she is ever paroled, there is no doubt she will kill again.”

The couple’s son, Donald Stevens III, told the court how his mother attacked him with a knife when he was a teenager and said he was asking for a life sentence “because she’s a very dangerous threat.”

Sarah Churchill said that the murder was premeditated, stating that a person can be tortured to death for long periods of time.She cited her client's history of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse during childhood, leading to mental illness. The letters about the murder were “more a result of her mental illness than anything else.”

Kim herself stated that “I would not be angry to get a life sentence at all. It would be a relief. I took responsibility for this and gave a full confession. I’ve been waiting 10 months for this day, to be sentenced and move on.”

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