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Ohio teenager gets life in prison for killing foster mother

A judge who sentenced Sabrina Zunich to at least 30 years said Lisa Knoefel begged her foster daughter to stop as she stabbed her over and over.

By Frances Burns

PAINESVILLE, Ohio, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- An Ohio teenager whose testimony helped convict her foster father of conspiracy to murder was sentenced to life Monday for the aggravated murder of her foster mother.

Sabrina Zunich, 19, will be eligible for parole when she has served at least 30 years, Lake County Common Pleas Judge Richard Collins Jr. said. He acknowledged Zunich was "manipulated and used" by Kevin Knoefel but found that the torture inflicted on his wife Lisa outweighed Zunich's cooperation with authorities.

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Zunich pleaded guilty last month, admitting she stabbed Lisa Knoefel with a kitchen knife with a serrated blade. Investigators found 12 stab wounds and 166 cuts.

"She was screaming for help and begging the defendant to stop," Colllins said. "She did not die immediately. I cannot imagine the nature of terror and fear."

Zunich was in foster care because her mother had drug and alcohol problems, and her grandmother said her behavior was too unruly for her to handle. She was sent to live with the Knoefels in Willoughby Hills in 2011.

During Kevin Knoefel's trial, Zunich testified they began having sex in March 2012. In November, she said, Kevin Knoefel said he did not want a divorce because of his young daughter and threatened to take his own life unless his wife died.

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Zunich's lawyer urged Collins to allow parole after 20 years.

Kevin Knoefel was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last year.

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