HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former advertising executive was sentenced Wednesday to 70 years in prison for kidnapping his ex-wife, holding her hostage for nearly a dozen hours and burning down the Connecticut home they once shared.
Richard Shenkman was convicted in October of 10 charges including kidnapping, arson, assault and threatening. He faced a potential of nearly 80 years in prison.
Shenkman, 62, abducted his ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, from downtown Hartford in 2009 and forced her at gunpoint to drive to the home in South Windsor. The two were in the middle of divorce-related court hearings.
Tyler testified that Shenkman threatened to kill her, fired a gun near her head and threatened to blow up the house. She escaped unharmed. He was arrested after running out of the burning house.
During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Shenkman told Judge Julia Dewey that he has hired an assassin to kill Tyler. The judge had rejected a motion by Shenkman’s attorney to delay sentencing for further psychological evaluation of his client.
“Nancy’s assassin is experienced and he has killed in the past,” Shenkman said. “Ending Nancy’s life when I am in prison makes my sentence worthwhile.”
Defense attorney Hugh Keefe said Shenkman’s remarks show his client is mentally ill. He had said Shenkman is a danger to himself and others and has gotten worse since his conviction. Keefe said he will appeal the judge’s decision.
Tyler had urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence, saying Shenkman has terrorized her, her family and her friends. She begged the judge to “give us some peace.”
“Mr. Shenkman’s campaign of destruction has been devastating,” Tyler said. She said he continues to threaten her from jail.
Prosecutor Vicki Melchiorre said Shenkman told prison guards that Tyler wouldn’t make it to sentencing and he would be on death row for murder for hire.
“He will never stop trying to destroy her,” Melchiorre said in asking for the maximum prison sentence.
Shenkman is the brother of Mark Shenkman, founder and president of one of the nation’s largest money management firms, Shenkman Capital Management. Richard Shenkman’s former advertising firm, Primedia, produced the “Gayle King Show” in 1997, starring Oprah Winfrey’s best friend.
Shenkman had mounted an insanity defense during his trial, but Tyler testified that her ex-husband often acted “crazy” to get his way.
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