LAKE COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Nearly two months after being convicted in the murder of his wife, Kevin Knoefel was sentenced to life in prison.
The jury believed prosecutors when they said Knoefel persuaded his foster-daughter, Sabrina Zunich, to kill his wife, Lisa, in November 2012 at their Willoughby Hills home. He and Zunich were having an affair.
Knoefel was emotionless arriving to hear his fate.
At one point during the sentencing hearing, Lisa's ex-husband, Nick Zanella, was ordered out of the courtroom because he was yelling and cursing at the defense attorney.
"Kevin, you're a piece of crap," said Zanella.
In the audience, Lisa's co-workers wept.
"She was an awesome worker, just so awesome with the children. She made a difference," said Erica Gaiter.
The jury decided he was the mastermind behind the murder. Prosecutors detailed a plot that showed he groomed Zunich: First to be his lover, then to be a murderer.
"He had no intention to live this dream life with Sabrina. He played on that. He made her believe that. But, ultimately, all that this was about was for him to get money," said Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John O'Donnell.
Specifically large insurance policies. His attorney objected to the description.
"For the state to suggest that Sabrina Zunich was a victim in this case is as absurd as the jury's verdict," said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Michael Connick.
That didn't sit well with Judge Joseph Gibson.
"To say that the efforts of these 12 people is absurd, I take great offense to. I think they did their job," said Gibson.
Knoefel made no comments before sentencing, just like he never took the stand during his trial.
Judge Gibson gave him life with no parole for at least 30 years and 12 years for the sexual relationship when Zunich was a minor. His attorney promised an appeal.
Zunich, who testified against Knoefel during his trial, was indicted in Lisa's murder last month. She is charged with aggravated murder and will be sentenced in September.
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