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Man gets life for burning wife fatally

A New York jeweler was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in prison for incinerating his wife in an oil drum.

During the extraordinary sentencing in Westchester County Court, he called the judge prejudiced, the prosecutor incompetent and his wife's family and friends a "lynch mob."

Werner Lippe said he was convicted on "assumptions, speculations and lies."

Reading from handwritten notes on a legal pad and quoting from U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the combative convict said he should not have been found guilty because his three recorded confessions were involuntary and there was no other evidence. No trace of his 49-year-old wife, who was divorcing him, was ever found.

"For this, I should go to prison for 25 years to life?" he asked.

Lippe, 68, who made jewelry for Donald Trump and Yoko Ono, said his original account of Faith Lippe's 2008 disappearance -- that he incinerated her in their backyard in Cortlandt after knocking her unconscious with a piece of lumber -- was fiction.

"It's impossible to burn a human body and leave no evidence," he said, repeating a main contention of his defense.

He had testified at trial, after recanting his confessions, that he last saw his wife being driven away from their home.

Judge Barbara Zambelli -- who stared at Lippe as he issued his presentencing diatribe -- imposed the maximum sentence, saying he "used his considerable knowledge of science to eliminate any forensic evidence of the murder of his wife."

Prosecutors theorized he used acids from his workshop to destroy bones and teeth.

In one confession -- recorded by a friend wearing a wire for the police -- Lippe said of his wife, "She doesn't exist anymore. They can't find her." He said Tuesday he confessed because he felt threatened by the friend.

Prosecutors said that by killing his wife, Lippe stood to keep the $1.5 million he would lose in the divorce.

Lippe told the judge and prosecutor, "You both fared poorly in your assigned duty."

When he finished, he told the judge to go ahead and sentence him. Then he turned slightly toward the relatives, friends and state police investigators in the gallery and said, "The lynch mob over there will applaud you."

Earlier in the court session, Faith Lippe's sister, Dawn Faigle, said Werner Lippe "sentenced my sister to a horrific burning death and me and my family to a life without her I can only pray that she felt no pain in her last moments."

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