Man convicted of plotting wife's murder after sex with foster daughter

Kevin Knoefel sentenced to life in prison

MENTOR, Ohio - In a heated hearing, a man was sentenced to serve life in prison plus 12 years after he was convicted of plotting with his foster daughter to kill his wife.

Kevin Knoefel was convicted of plotting to kill his wife after having sex with Sabrina Zunich, the couple's foster daughter.

He will be eligible for parole after 30 years. His defense attorney said today that he plans to appeal.
Lisa Knoefel's first husband spoke directly to Kevin Knoefel during the hearing. "I hope you rot in jail the rest of your life," he said.

During the hearing, Knoefel's defense attorney said that the jury had made the wrong decision, and that a flawed foster system was to blame for Zunich killing her foster mother.

"Mr. Knoefel maintains his innocence," the defense attorney said, "and for the state to suggest that Sabrina Zunich is a victim in this case is as absurd as the jury verdict."

Knoefel was convicted of six counts of sexual battery involving his foster daughter, who was 18 years old at the time of the murder last year.

Prosecutor John O'Donnell said that Knoefel even instructed his foster daughter how to stab 41-year-old Lisa Knoefel to cause the most internal damage.

O'Donnell said Kevin Knoefel wanted his wife out of the way and was afraid he'd lose custody of their 3-year-old daughter if they divorced.

Lisa Knoefel was killed on Nov. 16, 2012, allegedly by then-17-year-old Sabrina Zunich. Defense attorney Michael Connick told jurors that Zunich, now 19, is mentally ill and acted alone.

According to the indictment, Knoefel is charged with engaging in intercourse with Zunich on the day of the murder, in addition to occasions before and after his wife's murder.

Prosecutors believe Knoefel planned the murder beginning in August 2012 along with Zunich.

The indictment alleges that Knoefel engaged in discussions with his foster daughter and devised multiple plans to murder his wife while she slept in her bedroom.

He allegedly told Zunich that his wife was "worth more dead than alive" and the two allegedly agreed that Zunich would kill her foster mother by "stabbing her to death."

Prosecutors state in the indictment that Knoefel "directed Sabrina Zunich as to the specific knife to use to stab" his wife and "demonstrated how Sabrina Zunich should stab" her. Prosecutors also state Knoefel showed Zunich "how to twist the knife" into his wife's body.

According to the indictment, the two agreed to stab the woman in the "shoulder blades" or "neck area" and then "make the death look like a burglary."

Zunich was arrested immediately following Lisa Knoefel's murder and has been in Lake County Jail in lieu of bail since. She faces  life in prison if convicted.

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