Man Gets Life for Burying Wife Alive

( – In Prescott, Arizona, a man was sentenced to life in prison without parole after confessing to killing his wife by burying her alive in 2017.

David Michael Pagniano, 62, has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife, 39-year-old Sandra Pagniano. She was buried alive in a grave that had been dug by hand near their home. Yavapai County Attorney Dennis McGrane confirmed the sentence, noting the horrific nature of the crime.

Sandra Pagniano vanished during her divorce proceedings in May 2017. Despite their separation, she and David still resided in the same house with their two young daughters. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into her disappearance, leading to an extensive manhunt.

Her body was eventually discovered bound and gagged in packing tape in a hand-dug grave near Prescott. The medical examiner determined that she was buried alive, and evidence indicated she fought desperately in the grave, staying conscious for up to five minutes.

During the investigation, detectives found two notes in the divorce proceedings purportedly written by Sandra, stating she was leaving and handing David the vehicles, house, and custody of their children. However, forensic experts determined the notes were actually written by David.

Further evidence included cell phone data placing David near the gravesite days before Sandra’s death and on the night she went missing. Faced with this overwhelming evidence, David Pagniano pleaded guilty to murder just before his trial was set to begin, leaving the sentencing to the judge.

In addition to the life sentence for murder, Pagniano received an additional 16-and-a-half years for kidnapping, forgery, and fraud. McGrane expressed hope that the sentence would bring some closure to the victim’s family and emphasized the commitment of his office to prosecute violent crimes vigorously.

Sandra Pagniano’s murder has left a lasting impact on her family and community, highlighting the severity of domestic violence and the lengths to which law enforcement will go to seek justice.

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