Man, 77, faces prison for beating wife to death

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An elderly Whitehall man sat in the witness stand Monday and told an Allegheny County judge how much he loved his wife of nearly 50 years.

And then he learned that he would be sentenced April 25 for killing her.

Joseph Manning, 77, pleaded guilty but mentally ill Monday to third-degree murder for the March 31, 2012, beating death of Mary Manning.

According to assistant district attorney Michael Pradines, Mr. Manning was suicidal when his wife saw him with a knife in his hands that day.

When she confronted him, the couple got into a physical altercation, said defense attorney Charles LoPresti, and Mr. Manning struck the woman in the head with a pipe wrench.

The defense attorney said his client was in a psychotic break at the time, but when he realized the woman might be brain dead, he didn't want that to happen, so he killed her.

Mr. Manning then called 911 to report he killed his wife, called his son and then waited outside for the police.

When they arrived, Mr. Pradines said, Mr. Manning was armed with a knife.

Mr. LoPresti said it was because he hoped the responding officers would kill him. "I had no intent of harming any officers at all," Mr. Manning said during his hearing. "I wanted them, really, to shoot me."

Mr. LoPresti said his client has suffered from severe depression for many years, and that he adored his wife. "I really loved my wife," Mr. Manning said. "I never touched her until that day."

At sentencing before Judge Thomas E. Flaherty, Mr. LoPresti plans to ask for a sentence that will allow his client to be assigned to a prison mental health facility.

Paula Reed Ward:, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard. First Published February 3, 2014 1:04 PM


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