Cornell student sentenced in wife’s murder
ITHACA, N.Y. — A Cornell University doctoral student who fatally slashed his wife’s throat last year was sentenced to up to life in prison yesterday after the victim’s father put an urn containing her ashes on a courtroom table and asked a judge for the maximum penalty.
Blazej Kot was convicted in April of killing 28-year-old Caroline Coffey, a postdoctoral researcher at the Ivy League school whom he had married just months before the June 2009 murder.
At his sentencing in Ithaca, the 25-year-old from New Zealand apologized to his wife’s family, told them that he loved her, and said he hoped treatment will help him recover from the mental disorder his lawyer said drove him to the crime, Tompkins District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson said.
County Court Judge John Rowley imposed the maximum 25 years to life for murder, noting the brutality of the killing and a jury’s rejection of Kot’s defense that he suffered from a mental disorder that made him think his wife had been replaced by an impostor, Wilkinson said.
A jury found Kot guilty of second-degree murder, arson, and tampering with evidence after a three-week trial that included testimony that he plotted the killing and set fire to the couple’s apartment to cover up the crime.
Kot was born to Polish parents in Zaire and moved with his family to New Zealand, where he attended the University of Auckland. He came to Cornell on a student visa to pursue a doctorate in information science.
At the time of the killing, Kot had taken a leave of absence from his doctoral program to work for a business startup.
Coffey was killed a few hundred yards from their apartment on a trail popular with bikers and joggers.
Authorities said Kot led police on a 5-mile, high-speed chase after a state park officer spotted him in a car with dried blood on his arms.