Kimberly Hricko was sentenced to life in prison today for poisoning her husband during a Valentine's weekend murder-mystery theater retreat and then setting their hotel room on fire to cover up the crime.
Talbot County Circuit Court Judge William Horne also sentenced the Laurel woman to a concurrent term of 30 years, the maximum penalty on the arson charge.
Horne told Hricko that because she was capable of killing someone she once loved, "that would make you a very dangerous person to anyone else in society, because you would be capable of doing it to anyone else."
Hricko's attorneys said they would appeal both the conviction and the sentence.
She was convicted in January of murder and arson. Testimony in the five-day trial revealed that Hricko, 33, a surgical technician, had confided in friends and co-workers that she was bitterly unhappy in her marriage and longed to get rid of her husband.
Witnesses said Hricko stood to collect $400,000 from life insurance policies taken out on her husband.
During the trial, prosecutor Robert L. Dean, the former Montgomery County state's attorney, detailed what he called Hricko's "coldblooded and sinister" plot, telling jurors that she injected her husband with the powerful drug succinylcholine chloride, commonly used in surgery, to stop his breathing. Then, Dean said, she set fire to the hotel suite they shared at the Harbourtowne Golf Resort.
Stephen Hricko, 35, was found dead in the couple's room on Feb. 15, 1998, a few hours after the murder-mystery play, his body badly burned from the waist up. His wife was not in the room at the time of the fire, police said.
Defense attorneys argued that Hricko drank heavily the night he died and might have accidentally set the bedspread on fire. They also theorized that a depressed Hricko might have committed suicide, though they never said how he might have killed himself.
The couple had been married for nine years. They had one daughter, Anna, now 9.
Before the sentencing, Stephen Hricko's mother and sister asked the judge not to show leniency toward Kimberly Hricko.
"Nothing has been the same," said Mary Hricko, 71. "My husband can't talk about him without crying."
Dean said Hricko probably would serve at least 15 years in prison before she could expect to be considered for parole.
CAPTION: Kimberly Hricko arrives at court for sentencing. She was convicted of killing her husband and setting their hotel room on fire to cover up the crime.