Sister’s testimony brings Knoefel to tears in wife murder conspiracy trial

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PAINESVILLE, Ohio-- A Willoughby Hills police detective testified on Monday that 43-year-old Kevin Knoefel went on a spending spree, that included guns, new cars and a complete home remodeling, after his wife, 41-year-old Lisa Knoefel, was stabbed to death by the couple’s foster daughter, 19-year-old Sabrina Zunich, in November 2012.

Prosecutors said Knoefel collected $785,000 from various life insurance policies.

He is accused of seducing Sabrina Zunich and then convincing her to kill his wife.

Cell phone records indicate that Knoefel and Zunich  exchanged a staggering number of messages in the days leading up to the murder. Detective Ron Parmetor told the jury that in the 15 days prior to the murder, Knoefel and Zunich texted each other 1491 times, and in the same time frame, Knoefel texted his wife 201 times.

On Friday, prosecutors presented an undercover police video of Kevin Knoefel being questioned by a classmate of Sabrina Zunich about his involvement in a discussion about hiring a hit man to kill his wife, and about a comment that he made that his wife was worth more dead than alive.

Defense attorneys pointed out that Knoefel made no admissions on the tape, but the detective told the jury on Monday that Knoefel acted as if he was guilty. Det. Parmetor said, “Because there was no denials by the defendant.. when the defendant was talking about the hit man, the drug deal, the worth more dead than alive, he never denied any of those statements.”

After the prosecution rested, the defense presented the testimony of Kevin Knoefel’s sister. Knoefel cried for the first time in the trial, as his sister described his demeanor on the day his wife was murdered. Chris Ann Sutton told the jury, “Gave him a hug, and at that point, he started crying, I was crying, and it was a struggle to get him into the house.”

The defense also presented testimony from a classmate of Sabrina Zunich, who told the jury that Zunich told her she wanted to kill Lisa Knoefel. Willow Dennis testified that Zunich said, “I hate my mom. I’m going to kill her when I get home.”

Defense attorneys will continue to present their case on Tuesday.

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