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Merrick man admits in court to strangling his wife

John Gerges is escorted from Nassau County Police

John Gerges is escorted from Nassau County Police Headquarters in Mineola in February 2020. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Merrick man whose lawyer said reached a "boiling point" after suffering longtime abuse from his arthritis-riddled wife admitted Tuesday to killing his spouse of 37 years in an episode of domestic violence.

John Gerges, 61, pleaded guilty to manslaughter before acting State Supreme Court Justice Tammy S. Robbins in a deal that will send him to prison for 21 years.

The slaying happened Feb. 22, 2020, when authorities said Gerges put his hands around the neck of his wife, Marvat Gerges, and asphyxiated the 58-year-old in their Lindgren Street residence after an early-morning argument as he tried to fix a sink. Prosecutors said Tuesday the dispute was about the cleanliness of their home.

Gerges "brutally strangled his frail wife after a petty argument," acting Nassau District Attorney Joyce Smith said in a statement. She added that by his plea, Gerges "will be held responsible for this act of ultimate domestic violence."

Gerges' lawyer said after court that his client is remorseful and had lost control and lashed out after suffering a pattern of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his ill wife.

"This is an otherwise loving husband who was just pushed to the brink by his wife's behavior and unfortunately whatever conflict they were having … it wasn't dealt with so that it reached its boiling point and he lost it," attorney Ira Weissman said.

Gerges' wife suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for two decades and he had taken the last few months before the deadly conflict off from his job to care for her, according to the Central Islip defense lawyer.

Police have said the couple’s adult son heard his parents arguing when he left for work before returning from his job at around 2:30 p.m. and finding his homebound mother on a guest room bed with marks around her neck.

The son called 911, but police said later his mother was already dead. John Gerges wasn’t home, but police questioned and arrested him when he returned the next day.

A grand jury later indicted the husband on murder and strangulation charges that had him facing up to 25 years to life in prison if found guilty.

The defendant had claimed innocence as detectives led him from police headquarters bound for his initial court arraignment. John Gerges also said then he had suffered "years of abuse."

Police said at the time there was no indication that was true. They acknowledged the couple fought often, but said there was no record of officers going to their home for domestic disputes.

Gerges told the judge Tuesday he has an associate degree in mechanical engineering. He worked as a product tester for Good Housekeeping magazine for 27 years, according to his lawyer.

The judge plans to sentence Gerges on Sept. 13.

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