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Phoenix man gets prison time in plot to kill wife

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Fred Knadler Fred Knadler
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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A Valley businessman accused of twice trying to hire someone to kill his wife has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Court officials said Judge John Ditsworth sentenced Fred. B. Knadler, 76, on Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

"I feel relieved," said Libia Knadler immediately following the judge's decision. She also said she was sad. "When you're married to a person for 18 years, well it would have been 20 this year, it's extremely hard to see how he had destroyed his life."

Knadler was originally scheduled for sentencing Jan. 10 on a lesser charge of attempted kidnapping before the continuation until Jan. 24 was announced.

Knadler pleaded guilty in December to attempted kidnapping as part of a plea agreement. He was originally charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit abandonment of a body.

Phoenix police compiled dramatic evidence that includes an audio recording of Knadler hiring employee, Patrick King to murder his wife. She had just filed for divorce and Knadler, who was worth millions, did not want to give her a dime, according to the prosecution. The evidence also included jailhouse video showing Knadler asking an undercover officer to kill his wife and King.

Despite that powerful evidence, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery offered Knadler a plea deal.

Montgomery said Tuesday that the most serious charge of conspiracy to commit murder would be dropped as part of the plea agreement, leaving only the kidnapping and domestic violence charges which carried a maximum of 15 years in prison.

"There are a number of factors that were taken into account," said Montgomery. "Two specific things I can share included the defendant's age, 76 years old, as well as his current state of health and interest and the concern of victims of the offenses he's been charged with."

CBS 5 News asked Valley defense attorney Dwayne Cates why prosecutors would offer a plea deal when they seem to have such a strong case.

"Sometimes it looks like there is an overwhelming amount of evidence on the outside," said Cates. "When you look at it, there may be issues because there's a confidential informant, a police officer, there could be issues. There could be all kinds of underlying legal issues in the case that make it risky for the state to go to trial."

CBS 5 News reached out to Knadler's ex-wife, who said that she is not happy with the plea agreement.

Patrick King, the former employee who Knadler tried hiring for the hit and turned him in, spoke only with CBS 5 News about the plea agreement.

"I never agreed to this. I've been fearful every day, and now I'm panicking," he said.

King believes that Knadler is still angry and could try killing him if he's released from jail.

 "I don't even start my truck the same anymore. I walk around it. I reach in and close my eyes, and turn the key. I'm afraid it's going to blow up every time I get in," King said.

At Friday's sentencing, King told the judge he knows what Knadler is capable of and believes he is not going to stop.

Libby Knadler told the judge she fears for her safety on a daily basis while she lives in an emotional prison. She said her husband has never shown any remorse for his actions.

Fred Knadler owns Arizona Shower and Door in Phoenix.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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