Woman sentenced to 25 years in prison for 2014 murder in New York Street home

photo by: Richard Gwin

Christine Kaplan was found dead in her home in the 1100 block of New York Street on July 26, 2014. Angelica M. Kulp was initially charged with first-degree murder in connection with Kaplan's death.

Shaking slightly before a judge, Angelica Kulp on Friday afternoon said a soft goodbye to the remains of Christine Kaplan, the woman she killed in the summer of 2014.

“I didn’t mean to do what I did,” she said. “I did something horrific. … I want to say goodbye to her.”

On June 2, Kulp, 40, pleaded guilty to felony counts of second-degree murder and aggravated burglary. Friday she appeared in court, where Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff sentenced Kulp to prison to slightly more than 25 years for the two crimes.

photo by: Richard Gwin

Christine Kaplan and her son Sean Heskew

Before her sentence was read, Kulp stood and addressed Kaplan’s family, apologizing for her actions, saying mental illness contributed to the crime and asking for forgiveness.

“I apologize for the sorrow and pain I have caused,” she said. “I pray God and the people will forgive me for this felonious crime against another human being.

“She was my landlord and friend, and I am deeply sorry for what I have done,” she added.

On July 26, 2014, Kaplan, 56, was found dead in her home at 1117 New York St. Friends of the family came by the house to finish some yard work when they discovered her body downstairs.

The previous summer, Kaplan, who was known to take in those in need of help, allowed Kulp to stay in her home. She later asked Kulp to leave because she was running up the water bill and was being disrespectful.

At other times, Kaplan reported that she was afraid of Kulp, who was known to be severely mentally ill.

Several days after Kaplan’s body was found, Kulp was arrested in Topeka on an unrelated incident when she burglarized an acquaintance’s house. She pleaded guilty to one felony count of aggravated burglary and was sentenced to serve nearly three years in prison, according to Shawnee County Court records.

This January, Kulp requested to be transferred to Douglas County so she could face charges in Kaplan’s death.

When she pleaded guilty in June, she explained her medication affected her nervous system, causing her to shake.

After Kulp offered her apologies to her victim’s family, Kaplan’s older sister Anne Luse, and only son, Sean Heskew, spoke. While they did condemn Kulp’s actions, both spoke mostly of Kaplan, sharing fond memories and their thoughts of sorrow.

“I do not hate Angelica Kulp,” Luse said. “I do not feel anger or vengeful feelings about her. … I probably feel more compassion for Kulp than she can realize.

“Chris was adventurous and brave, well read and intelligent, compassionate and loving,” Luse added. “She was open-minded and nonjudgmental, gregarious and funny and clever and beautiful.”

Heskew, a retired Marine, said he has been places and seen things that most have not and never shed a tear, but the loss of his mother pains him. He said even when Kaplan was afraid for her safety, she said nothing to him because she wanted to be a strong mother.

Father to four children, ages 15 to 5, Heskew said he regrets that only one of his children will really remember his mother.

“It pains me they don’t get to see the light that was Grandma Chris,” he said.

Heskew then set a small, metal tin on a table in front of Kulp and asked if she would like to say goodbye. Kulp obliged.

Acknowledging the case’s difficulty, Huff offered her sympathy to the family before reading Kulp’s sentence.

For the two felony charges, Huff sentenced Kulp to serve more than 25 years in prison. Her Douglas County sentence will run consecutive to the remaining time on her burglary sentence in Shawnee County, Huff said.

When she is released from prison, Kulp will have to register as a violent offender for 15 years, Huff said.