Richard Shenkman Sentenced to 70 Years

The former advertising exec said the state can do nothing to prevent murder.

By Yvonne Nava and Debra Bogstie
|  Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012  |  Updated 7:20 PM EDT
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At his sentencing for kidnapping and assaulting his ex, Richard Shenkman told a judge he had hired an assassin to murder his former wife.

At his sentencing for kidnapping and assaulting his ex, Richard Shenkman told a judge he had hired an assassin to murder his former wife.

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Richard Shenkman, a former advertising executive has been sentenced to 70 years in prison for kidnapping his ex-wife, holding her hostage for nearly 12 hours and burning down the South Windsor house they once shared.

During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Shenkman told Judge Julia Dewey that there is nothing the state can do to prevent the murder of his ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, and he hired an assassin to kill her. 

“Nancy's assassin is experienced and he has killed in the past," Shenkman said. "Ending Nancy's life when I am in prison makes my sentence worthwhile." 

He also said he views himself as a prisoner of war, not a convicted criminal. 

"In July 2006, Nancy Tyler declared war. She fired the first shots,” he said, referring to Tyler filing for divorce. 

The judge had rejected a motion by Shenkman's attorney, Hugh Keefe, to delay sentencing for further psychological evaluation of his client. 

Keefe said Shenkman's remarks show his client is mentally ill. He had said Shenkman is a danger to himself and others and has gotten worse since his conviction. Keefe said he will appeal the judge's decision. 

Shenkman was convicted in October of 10 charges, including kidnapping, arson, assault and threatening. He faced a potential of nearly 80 years in prison. 

Shenkman, 62, abducted his ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, from downtown Hartford in 2009 and forced her at gunpoint to drive to the home in South Windsor. The two were in the middle of divorce-related court hearings. 

Tyler testified that Shenkman threatened to kill her, fired a gun near her head and threatened to blow up the house. She escaped unharmed. He was arrested after running out of the burning house.  

Tyler had urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence and said Shenkman has terrorized her, her family and her friends. She begged the judge to "give us some peace." 

“What should have been a simple divorce turned into a five year nightmare," she said. 

Prosecutor Vicki Melchiorre said Shenkman told prison guards that Tyler wouldn't make it to sentencing and he would be on death row for murder for hire. 

"He will never stop trying to destroy her," Melchiorre said in asking for the maximum prison sentence. 

Shenkman is the brother of Mark Shenkman, founder and president of one of the nation's largest money management firms, Shenkman Capital Management. 

Richard Shenkman's former advertising firm, Primedia, produced the "Gayle King Show" in 1997, starring Oprah Winfrey's best friend. 

Shenkman had mounted an insanity defense during his trial, but Tyler testified that her ex-husband often acted "crazy" to get his way. 

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