Daughter-slay plea postponed

There has yet to be a plea deal offered to Stacey Pagli (left), who, according to her lawyer, plans to admit in court that she strangled her teenage daughter last year at Manhattanville College.

Pagli appeared briefly in Westchester County court today. She is due to return Feb. 1, but her lawyer and prosecutor will meet for a conference on Jan. 25.

Allan Focarile of the Westchester Legal Aid Society said he is waiting for the District Attorney’s office to make an offer in exchange for a guilty plea. Pagli, 38, is charged with second-degree murder, punishable by 25 years to life in prison. Assistant District Attorney Timothy Ward is the prosecutor.

Focarile  said he hoes the DA’s office realizes how extremely depressed and emotionally disturbed his client was when 18-year-old Marissa Pagli was strangled on Feb. 22 in the family’s on-campus apartment in Purchase. He said there will likely be a decision on the direction of the case — but not a guilty plea — on Feb. 1.

“I think there will be a resolution that will be satisfactory to everyone involved,” he said.

Authorities say Pagli, 38, returned home after dropping off her 3-year-old daughter, Gianna, at day care Feb. 22 and began arguing with Marissa, a Manhattanville freshman. She strangled her daughter, authorities said, then tried killing herself first by cutting her wrist and then by hanging herself with a belt on a doorknob. In court papers, Pagli told police that she strangled her daughter because she was disrespectful and rude. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” 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. She tried to kill herself again by tying socks around her neck in jail.

Her estranged husband, John Pagli, a college maintenance supervisor, found his daughter’s body and his unconscious wife in their second-floor apartment in an apparent suicide attempt. He was in the courtroom gallery today, as he has been for nearly every one of his wife’s appearances, and was accompanied by a private lawyer.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea is presiding over the case.

Pagli expected to plead guilty in slaying of her daughter

Stacey Pagli (left) plans to admit in court that she strangled her teenage daughter at Manhattanville College in February, her lawyer said at her latest court appearance today.

“We anticipate a disposition in this matter,” said Allan Focarile of the Westchester Legal Aid Society.

Pagli, 38, is being held without bail on a second-degree murder charge. There was no word on if she would plead guilty to that charge or to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter. It was also uncertain what the sentencing recommendation would be should she enter a guilty plea.

She will return to court on Jan. 11. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea is presiding over the case.

She is accused of strangling 18-year-old Marissa Pagli on Feb. 22 in the family’s on-campus apartment in Purchase. Her estranged husband, John Pagli, a college maintenance supervisor, found his daughter’s body and his unconscious wife in their second-floor apartment in an apparent suicide attempt.

John Pagli was in the courtroom gallery today, as he has been for nearly ever one of his wife’s appearances. He exchanged a long glance with his wife, who made eye contact with him while her attorney was discussing the case with the judge and prosecutors. When she looked away, he began to shake and left the courtroom in tears as she was returned to the courthouse’s holding cell.

Assistant District Attorney Timothy Ward, who is prosecuting the case, said he recently received a report from Dr. Angela Hegarty, a psychiatric expert for the District Attorney’s Office, who interviewed Pagli. He will turn over the report to Focarile, who hired his own psycholigists to examine his client.

Authorities say Pagli, 38, returned home after dropping off her 3-year-old daughter, Gianna, at day care Feb. 22 and began arguing with Marissa, a Manhattanville freshman. She strangled her daughter, authorities said, then tried killing herself first by cutting her wrist and then by hanging herself with a belt on a doorknob. In court papers, Pagli told police that she strangled her daughter because she was disrespectful and rude. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” 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. She tried to kill herself again by tying socks around her neck in jail.

Mount Vernon man acquitted in 2009 fatal shooting

A Mount Vernon man has been found not guilty in last year’s shooting death of a 30-year-old man but was convicted of having an illegal loaded firearm.

A Westchester County jury acquitted 27-year-old William Robinson on Monday of second-degree murder in the Sept. 16, 2009 slaying of Shawn Andre McGee in front of 20 E. Fourth St.

McGee was shot multiple times in broad daylight in front of the building and later died at Mount Vernon Hospital. Robinson was arrested in Yonkers after an intense manhunt involving police dogs, a helicopter and heavily armed police officers.

Robinson became the prime suspect because of evidence found at the scene and tips from Mount Vernon residents, Mount Vernon Police Commissioner David Chong said last year. Chong also said Robinson and McGee had an ongoing dispute.

The jury also acquitted Robinson of first-degree manslaughter but found him guilty of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 16 by Westchester County Judge James W. Hubert., who presided over the three-week trial.

Robinson was represented by Allan Focarile, a veteran defense lawyer with the Westchester County Legal Aid Society. Assistant District Attorney Perry Perrone Michelle Lopez prosecuted the case.

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.

Elderly killer sentenced in wife’s “mercy” slaying

Paul Weinstein said nothing this morning as a Westchester County judge sentenced him to eight years in state prison for what he told police was a mercy killing of his elderly wife in their New Rochelle home last year.

Weinstein, 78, had agreed to the sentence when he pleaded guilty in June to first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Helen Weinstein on Sept. 23.

The prison term for Weinstein, who has been in jail for more than 10 months, could end up a life sentence for the frail ex-pharmacist.

In court papers, Weinstein told police that his wife, also in her 70s, was “starting to lose it” and that the shooting was a mercy killing. Later, he told authorities that an argument with his wife “set him off.”

He used a World War II-era Walther handgun to shoot his wife as she lay in bed in their 12th-floor apartment at a senior citizen housing complex at 35 Maple Ave. He called 911 to report what had happened and, after a brief standoff with police, surrendered.

He tried suffocating her with a pillow and, when that failed, took the 9 mm handgun from the bedroom closet, loaded it and hid it under a kitchen towel so his wife wouldn’t be alarmed.

The gun fired on the second try.

Weinstein told detectives he apologized to his slain wife, called police and then got into his bathtub and tried shooting himself in the head several times, but the gun would not fire.

Prosecutor Christine O’Connor said the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office has said Weinstein’s age and poor health were considered when reducing the second-degree murder charge to first-degree manslaughter. O’Connor also said the couple’s daughter had asked her office for leniency.

Weinstein, a licensed pharmacist for 54 years and a former supervisor at R&R Pharmacy in Mamaroneck, was represented by Allan Focarile of the Westchester Legal Aid Society.

Elderly wife-killing suspect appears in court

For the first time in months, Paul Weinstein appeared in Westchester County Court on charges that he fatally shot his sickly wife last year.

Weinstein, a 78-year-old pharmacist, shuffled into the courtroom using a walker with wheels.  He had missed his last few court appearances due to medical problems. He has been incarcerated since his arrest on Sept. 23 — the day his wife was shot.

The diminutive Weinstein sat in a chair as his court-appointed lawyer, Allan Focarile of the Legal Aid Society, and prosecutor Christine O’Connor had a bench conference with acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea.  Weinstein is due back in court on June 10, at which time the case will be assigned a trial judge or be resolved with a plea bargain.

According to court papers, Weinstein told police that an argument with his wife “set him off” and that he shot her dead in their New Rochelle home after he failed to suffocate her with a pillow.

He used a World War II-era Walther handgun to shoot his wife as she lay in bed in their 12th-floor apartment at a senior citizen housing complex at 35 Maple Ave. He then called 911 to report what had happened and, after a brief standoff with police, surrendered.

Weinstein insisted his wife’s slaying was a mercy killing.

No bail reduction for you

While the last two weeks in August are typically slow at the Westchester County Courthouse, Judge Barbara Zambelli’s courtroom was busy this morning with a long parade of defendants and defense lawyers — one of whom got a sharp rebuke from the bench.

Legal Aid attorney Allan Focarile argued for a bail reduction for one of his clients, who is being held on $50,000. He called the high bail “a ransom.”

One problem: the bail was set by Westchester County Judge Jeffrey A. Cohen, meaning Zambelli, another county judge, couldn’t overrule him.

“I’m not his Appellate judge, sir,” Zambelli said. “I go by the law. I don’t know what governs your behavior.”

Needless to say, the defendant was sent back to the county jail with the same bail amount.