NM Wiccan follower gets 20 years for killing

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque woman who pleaded no contest to fatally stabbing a man with a dagger she planned to use as part of a Wiccan ritual was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday.

Angela Sanford, 31, received the maximum sentence at a hearing in Albuquerque District Court.

Sanford stabbed Joel Leyva, 52, more than a dozen times in the head, neck and stomach with a dagger used in Wiccan rituals called an athame, authorities said. It happened in early 2010 near a popular hiking trail on the eastern edge of Albuquerque.

Sanford said in a criminal complaint that she became fearful of being raped so she convinced Leyva she wanted sex and then stabbed him repeatedly with the dagger. But prosecutors said Sanford had programmed Leyva's phone number in her cellphone under "Sacrifice" instead of his name.

According to police, Sanford met Leyva at a casino in March 2010. Police said she asked Leyna to meet with him about a week later near the trailhead of the Sandia Foothills Open Space for a "Wiccan rite of spring." Sanford had Leyva remove his clothes and took off most of hers, straddled him and then stabbed him 13 times, investigators said.

Area Wiccans have denounced Sanford's actions and said that blood sacrifices are not part of the religion.

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