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Tuscumbia man sentenced to death in wife's slaying

TUSCUMBIA (AP) — A Tuscumbia man has been sentenced to death in the slaying of his wife — whom he met through an Internet chat room and was accused of killing after taking out insurance on her life.

Colbert County Circuit Judge Jackie Hatcher followed a jury's recommendation and imposed the death sentence Tuesday for Kim VanPelt, 45.

He was convicted of capital murder in the death of Sandra VanPelt, 40, of Southgate, Mich., a mother of three daughters.

The couple had met on the Internet and lived briefly in Muscle Shoals before Kim VanPelt reported his wife missing Nov. 22, 2004.

Prosecutors said he killed his wife to collect a $300,000 life insurance policy taken out on her just days after they were married.

A hunter discovered her body Nov. 24, 2004, in a wooded area near Hackleburg in Marion County.

An autopsy found she had died of suffocation.

Sandra VanPelt's sister, Deborah Joseph, of Lincoln Park, Mich., said in a telephone interview with the TimesDaily that her family was pleased with the sentence.

She said the family expects numerous appeals and is prepared to see the case drag on for years. But she said they expect he eventually will be executed.

In the meantime, she said, "we know he can't get out on parole. He will have to stay in prison the rest of his life."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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