Saturday, October 31, 2009

ALFRED, Maine — Kimberly Spampinato gave little reaction Thrusday in York County Superior Court when sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband, but tearful sorrow was seen among family members of the murder victim.

Spampinato, 42, who pleaded guilty in August to killing 39-year-old Christopher Spampinato by setting him on fire while he slept, also was sentenced Thursday afternoon to a concurrent 30-year sentence for one count of arson. She has the right to appeal.

“There is only one sentence that can be imposed,” said Justice Paul Fritzsche after reiterating the reasons for the sentences.

Both sentences, he said, were the maximum the state of Maine could issue, although “there is nothing we could do that is meaningful to assist the (family of the Christopher).”

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.

Spampinato set her husband on fire because he wanted a divorce and was having a phone relationship with a Texas woman, Nicki Lowhorn, according Marchese.

Though her attorney, Sarah Churchill, was arguing for a lesser sentence, Kimberly Spampinato told the court she'd be “relieved” to get life in prison. Amy McGarry is Spampinato's other defense attorney.

Fritzsche said that although it was Kimberly Spampinato's right not to apologize or show remorse for her actions, the lack of such during the sentencing showed that a life sentence without parole was applicable.

The York County judge also noted that from letters written from Kimberly Spampinato to Christopher's family it appeared that she “enjoyed” or “reveled” in his death, which was a certain rarity among even most murders.

During the courtroom sentence hearing, members of Christopher's family gave emotional statements encouraging that she has a history of violence and should be sentenced to life.

“Sometimes I can wake up and smell the burn unit where I watched him die slowly,” said Christopher's sister, Jennifer Cabot, reading from a statement. Cabot said she wanted to be able to remember her brother for the “amazing person that he was.”

Kimberly Spampinato's attorneys said she had a terrible childhood, mental illness and did positive things in her working -life, where she was a nurse's assistant.

Churchill said her Spampinato's youth included sexual abuse and that she was working through her struggles with counseling and medication.

Fritzsche acknowledged those circumstances, but said by Spaminato setting her husband on fire, the situation became “extreme cruelty,” which was due cause for the sentence.

He also noted that public safety was a major concern by Maine courts.

While a few people, including Spampinato's ex-husband, gave statements that she should get life in prison, no one spoke on Spampinato's behalf.

She was quickly ushered out of the courtroom after the sentencing, while the victim's family gave each other hugs.

Outside the Alfred courthouse, Christopher's mother, Ann Cabot, convened with other family members. She was wearing some of her son's ashes around her neck.

Jennifer Cabot was, too.

“It's all done; everything is done,” Ann Cabot said, pausing to look up at the nearly cloudless sky. “She wanted life. She got it.”

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