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Long IslandCrime

Daughter pleads guilty to deadly pipe attack on mother in Long Beach

Francesca Kiel is taken from Nassau County Police

Francesca Kiel is taken from Nassau County Police Headquarters in 2019.   Credit: Daniel Goodrich

A Long Beach murder victim’s daughter admitted Tuesday that she teamed up with her correction officer boyfriend to plan a deadly attack on her mother that he carried out in 2016 with a dumbbell pipe.

In a Skype court proceeding, State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn unsealed Francesca Kiel’s December 2019 plea to a murder charge in the death of Theresa Kiel, 56.

Francesca Kiel, now 23, then pleaded guilty to a lower charge of first-degree manslaughter.

Tuesday's plea took place after a request from prosecutor Stefanie Palma that the judge allow the Nassau inmate to plead to the lower felony charge as part of a deal in which the defendant will serve 13 years in prison.

The Lynbrook woman told the judge she understood she was as responsible for the deadly attack on her mother as her boyfriend, Ralph Keppler, because she aided and abetted him.

The defendant also admitted that the couple plotted the December 2016 attack together. The daughter agreed she put a GPS device on her mother’s car to track her before the assault and called for a taxi to transport Keppler on the night of the beating.

Newsday reported last year that sources said the daughter had pleaded guilty to murder as part of a cooperation deal with prosecutors that was to include her testifying against Keppler, 30. But then Keppler also pleaded guilty to murder instead of going to trial.

Theresa Kiel, a Malverne schoolteacher, died nearly two years after Keppler attacked her in the entrance of her New York Avenue apartment complex on Dec. 4, 2016, after waiting for her to come home.

Prosecutors have said the ambush put the victim in a vegetative state, crushing her skull and dislodging one of her eyes from its socket.

The victim remained hospitalized until her death in November 2018, when police arrested her daughter and Keppler — who already was charged with attempted murder — on murder and conspiracy charges.

Last month Quinn sentenced Keppler, also of Lynbrook, to 22 years to life in prison. The deadly assault was linked to a business deal gone bad, according to authorities.

Keppler, a former Rikers Island officer, filed a lawsuit before the attack alleging he and his relatives gave the victim and her son, Vincent Kiel, thousands of dollars to develop a dating app — but she squandered it.

Authorities said they dug up evidence implicating the couple that included Google searches for "easiest way to kill someone" and "single skull death blow" linked to a Gmail account of the daughter's.

Authorities found the murder weapon behind a building in the area of the attack and both the victim's blood and Keppler's DNA were on it, prosecutors said previously.

Vincent Kiel called Keppler an "animal" during his June sentencing, and his mother an "undeniably good" woman who was working on creating a homeless shelter tutoring program on the day of her attack.

Francesca Kiel's sentencing will be Sept. 9.

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement after the defendant's guilty plea Tuesday that the "shocking murder" of the victim "was made all the more horrific by her daughter's involvement" and that the hard work of law enforcement officials had brought the victim's killers "to justice."

The defendant's attorney, Geoffrey Prime, said his client had "accepted responsibility for her role in the death of her mother."

The Mineola lawyer added: “This is obviously an unimaginable tragedy, but today, Francesca has taken the first of many steps towards redemption. She is truly remorseful for her part, but will emerge from this a better individual.”

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