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Bethpage man sentenced to 47 years to life in prison for wife's murder

Robert Crumb leaves the Nassau County Courthouse in

Robert Crumb leaves the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola on Monday after he was sentenced in the murder of his wife, Maria. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Bethpage man who stabbed his wife to death in their home before leading police on a chase that ended in a fiery explosion in Brooklyn is heading to prison for 47 years to life after his sentencing Monday.

“You intentionally killed your wife in the most brutal and savage way,” acting State Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy told Robert Crumb, 45, before meting out the man’s punishment in a Mineola court.

Crumb spoke briefly, denying any wrongdoing.

"I would never, ever do something like this. All I did was take care of my family . . . I would never try to hurt anybody," he said.

But prosecutor Michael Walsh asked the judge to punish Crumb with consecutive prison time for his multiple convictions, saying the man took his wife's life "in an absolutely horrific way" and lacked remorse.

Prosecutors said that on Nov. 4, 2016, Crumb, a Brooklyn school janitor, paralyzed his 41-year-old wife, Maria Crumb, in an initial knife attack in a bedroom of their Seitz Drive home.

The violence erupted as the couple argued about their pending divorce, with the husband throwing their son, Robbie Crumb Jr., off his back as the then-12-year-old boy tried to stop the assault on his mother, according to authorities.

Prosecutors also said during a Nassau County Court trial that Crumb wounded the couple’s daughter, Tiffany Crumb, then 16, as she tried to grab a knife from him, before he again attacked his wife by fatally slitting her throat.

A jury in May convicted Crumb of second-degree murder, two felony assault counts, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest. They acquitted him of another assault charge and a weapon charge.

“Justice was done,” Maria Crumb’s mother, Patty Kontonis, 64, of Hicksville, said outside Nassau County Court later Monday, adding her daughter "can now rest in peace."

In court, she called her daughter a “wonderful and caring” mother who was “murdered by an animal.”

“I often wonder if Maria could feel her heart breaking when she knew she was leaving her children forever,” Kontonis said, reflecting on her daughter’s suffering at the time of her slaying. “Maria, my angel, did not deserve to be cruelly taken from us.”

Walsh, the prosecutor, said during the trial the defendant’s actions were “targeted” and “purposeful," and blood evidence showed Maria Crumb couldn’t have attacked her husband first.

“This defendant deserves every day of that sentence," Walsh said later Monday.

Testimony and evidence showed an early-morning 911 call from the couple’s son, in which the boy said “my dad stabbed my mom,” brought police to the home, where Maria Crumb already was dead.

Authorities said the capture of Robert Crumb, who fled the home, came after he led police on a pursuit from the Southern State Parkway to the Belt Parkway. It later ended in an explosion and fire at a Brooklyn gas station when Crumb drove into a gas pump, according to testimony.

Authorities said police arrested Crumb after using a stun gun on him after he charged at an officer, knocking the officer unconscious.

Garden City attorney Stephen Scaring presented a self-defense theory for Robert Crumb at trial, portraying Maria Crumb as the aggressor who brought a knife into a room where his client was sleeping before a struggle ensued. He also suggested his client’s actions may have been influenced by his use of prescription cough medicine.

Scaring has said his client is pursuing an appeal. On Monday, he asked the judge to give his client the minimum penalty for murder, saying "extreme emotional disturbance" impacted the conduct of Robert Crumb, who "didn't plan on killing his wife."

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