Father of Manhattanville College slaying victim fights tears as wife answers murder charge

A teary-eyed John Pagli couldn’t stop  shaking as he watched his handcuffed wife appear in court today on a charge of killing their teenaged daughter five months ago at Manhattanville College.

Stacey Pagli stood expressionless by her lawyer, who is defending her against a second-degree murder charge in the slaying of Marissa Pagli in their apartment on campus in Purchase.

At one point during her brief court appearance, Stacey Pagli turned around and locked eyes with her choked-up husband in the front row. He mouthed some words to her with a painful expression on his face. She turned to face the judge and didn’t look at him again.

At his wife’s initial appearance in Harrison Town Court in February, John Pagli yelled, “You can’t even look at me, you bitch!”

Two psychiatric experts will interview John Pagli tomorrow in the Westchester County District Attorney’s office about his wife’s mental state before his daughter was choked to death on Feb. 22. John Pagli had resisted talking to the defense experts and previously said through prosecutors that he wanted nothing to do with his wife’s lawyer.

If a jury believes that Stacey Pagli, 38, suffered an emotional disturbance due to severe depression or some other cause when she killed her daughter, she could be convicted of manslaughter and serve less time in prison.

Authorities say Stacey Pagli strangled her daughter, an 18-year-old Manhattanville freshman, then tried killing herself by first cutting her left wrist and then by hanging herself with a belt on a doorknob.

John Pagli, a college maintenance supervisor, returned home and found his daughter’s body and his wife unconscious in their second-floor apartment.

In court papers, Stacey Pagli told police that she strangled Marissa because her daughter was disrespectful and rude. “I couldn’t take it any more,” she told police in a statement. “She pushed my last button.”

Both sides will return to court on Aug. 18.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.