February 2, 2015 / 3:47 PM / 3 years ago

New York couple sentenced to prison after woman held in apartment

(This Jan. 29 story corrects name of judge in the 10th paragraph and spelling of prosecutor's name in the 12th paragraph)

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York couple who faced life imprisonment on charges of holding a paralyzed woman captive for over a year received sentences on Thursday of more than a decade in prison in a plea deal with prosecutors.

Maureen Murray, now 61, was discovered by police in 2012 with broken bones and severe malnourishment, huddled on the floor of a bare apartment room in the city's Queens borough, prosecutors said.

Police had been called by Murray's niece who was concerned she could not reach her.

Prosecutors said Murray had been lured in 2011 by her former neighbor Mae Washington, 65, to rent an apartment together in order to save money.

But prosecutors said Washington and Patrick Donovan, 45, imprisoned Murray, beat her, taped her mouth shut and binded her limbs, although she was paralyzed on her left side.

Washington and Donovan faced 11 charges including kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment. In an agreement with prosecutors, they pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in state Supreme Court in Queens.

Under the plea deal, the victim was "thrilled" not have to testify, Assistant District Attorney Patricia Theodorou said.

"She does not want to relive the nightmare and face them again," Theodorou said.

Prosecutors said the pair cashed Murray's Social Security checks and other benefits.

Sentenced to 11 years in prison, Washington said to Judge Richard Buchter: "I don't feel like I deserve this."

"No, you don't. You deserve double," the judge replied.

Her attorney, John Ciafone, said afterward his client blamed the assault on her co-defendant, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Outside the courtroom, Donovan's attorney, Steve Goldenberg, said his client felt remorse and believed there had been a misunderstanding.

"He believes they were trying to help her," the attorney said.

Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney

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