Jimmy Titus told a Riverhead courtroom Tuesday that his wife "meant more to me than anyone else in the world," moments before a judge sentenced him to 23 years in prison for killing her.

Titus, 47, of Mastic Beach, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter last month. Suffolk Assistant District Attorney James Chalifoux said Titus stabbed Lori Titus, 48, four times in the back and arm with a kitchen knife on Dec. 6 at the Brentwood home of her friend.

Tuesday, Titus asked for permission to speak at a microphone and podium, a request state Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle denied. Instead, Titus spoke while standing handcuffed next to his attorney, Craig McElwee of West Babylon.

"When I first met Lori, I was smitten with her," Titus said, adding that she later became unfaithful. "This devastated me. . . . She broke my heart."

He then apologized to her family, who sat in the courtroom wearing T-shirts bearing her picture.

Jimmy Titus' son, James Titus, and daughter, Amanda Titus, leave court after their father was sentenced for killing his estranged wife. / Photo by Joseph D. Sullivan / July 28, 2009

"My soul cries out for her every day," he said.

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The couple's daughter, Amanda Titus, 16, spoke in support of her father.

"At this point, I'd like it to be evident and clear that my father loved my mother and our family dearly," she said, standing next to her brother, James, 22. "He cooked, cleaned, did everything in between and still managed to provide us with the attention we needed."

She alluded to factions and battles within the family as she stood by her father. "I will not remember you as someone being charged with a crime, but as someone who came from nothing, became everything and had it all taken from him. . . . I love you now and I'll love you always."

Lori Titus suffered abuse from her husband during their 22 years of marriage, her relatives said.

"Jim made her suffer every day up until the day she died," said her niece Nicole DeSena, reading a statement by her mother, Lori's sister, Rose DeSena.

In October, Lori Titus found the courage to leave her husband, they said.

The following month, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Rose DeSena's statement said, pointing out how it wasn't the disease that took her sister, but rather a "crazed, obsessed, abusive man."