West Virginia woman admits to fatally stabbing husband with 14-inch knife during rough foreplay, gets 15 years in jail
Jennifer Lynn Via, initially charged with first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter over the incident
A West Virginia woman took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to her charges in the 2017 stabbing death of her husband, where she had claimed that she had accidentally stabbed him as part of sexual foreplay they regularly indulged in during their relationship.
The 49-year-old Jennifer Lynn Via, stabbed her husband Thomas Via in the back with a 14-inch-long decorative dagger at the couple's home in the 900 block of 28th Street in Huntington on November 4, 2017, according to the Herald-Dispatch.
A subsequent autopsy determined that the knife, which is believed to have been a letter opener, had penetrated seven inches into his back, striking his heart and causing him to bleed to death internally.
The night of his death, Lynn had reportedly called Cabell County 911 and said her husband had been accidentally stabbed while they were engaging in horseplay before sex. But over the course of their investigation into Thomas' death, detectives found that Lynn had given family and law enforcement agents several different stories of how her husband had died.
Among the stories was one of how he had slipped on water and fell onto an old knife or screwdriver and another one where Lynn claimed they had been mimicking a ninja superhero movie and she accidentally stabbed her husband as he stood up from a bent-over position while dumping water into a toilet.
They also found that in the days after his death, she had tried to collect an $80,000 life insurance policy that had been suspiciously increased to that amount just weeks before the incident. Ten days after his death, Lynn was charged with first-degree murder.
But in the first week of July, Lynn accepted a plea and pleaded guilty to lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter before Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard. As part of her plea, she admitted she had placed the knife in her husband's back, but continued to insist that it was a mistake during foreplay.
"My husband and I liked to fight and have sex and then makeup, if that's the right way to say that," she said. "He wasn't supposed to get hurt, but it did happen." Her defense attorney, Kerry Nessel, backed her up. "As strange as this is, they watched these Kung Fu movies and it led to, what I would tell a jury, foreplay, which was both of them getting pretty violent with each other while playing with weapons," he said.
Lynn was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison. However, the sentence could be reduced to anywhere between three and 15 years at a hearing on August 19 after an investigation into her personal and criminal history is completed.