Kevin Knoefel, accused of plotting with foster daughter to kill wife, convicted of conspiracy murder

PAINESVILLE, Ohio - Kevin Knoefel was convicted of plotting with his foster daughter to kill his wife by a Lake County jury Wednesday.

Knoefel, 43, of Willoughby Hills, accused of plotting to kill his wife after having sex with their foster daughterwas convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and three counts of complicity to commit aggravated murder.

In addition, 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 told a Lake County jury last week 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."

Prosecutors say the pair "agreed that if apprehended by police," Zunich "would say she did not remember what happened or would claim insanity."

Work from the Associated Press is included in this story.

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