Defense completes psych tests for Pagli

The defense team has given prosecutors medical records and psychological reports for Stacey Pagli, who appeared in Westchester County Court this morning on a charge of killing her teenage daughter six months ago at Manhattanville College.

Her estranged husband, John Pagli, was also in court. After exchanging a brief glance with his handcuffed wife, he fought back tears during her brief court appearance and dashed out of the courtroom as soon as she was returned to the courthouse’s holding cell.

Stacey Pagli is facing a second-degree murder charge in the slaying of Marissa Pagli in the family’s on-campus apartment in Purchase. Her attorney, Allan Focarile of the Westchester Legal Aid Society, said he plans to use a psychiatric defense.

Assistant District Attorney Timothy Ward said Dr. Angela Hegarty, a psychological expert who has testified for prosecutors in other murder cases, would review the records and reports before interviewing Stacey Pagli herself.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Albert Lorenzo ordered both sides to return to court Sept. 15.

If a jury believes that 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.

After initially refusing, John Pagli met with two psychiatric experts about his wife’s mental state before Marissa was choked to death Feb. 22.

Authorities say Pagli returned home after dropping off her 3-year-old daughter, Gianna, at day care on Feb. 22 and almost immediately began arguing with Marissa, an 18-year-old Manhattanville freshman. She strangled her daughter, authorities said, 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 shortly after noon to find his daughter’s body and his wife unconscious in their second-floor apartment.

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

According to the statements, she then used a belt to try to strangle herself but failed, as she did in an attempt to slash her wrist. She said she had left a note for her husband. After her arrest, she tried to kill herself again by tying socks around her neck in jail.

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.