John Gerges is escorted out of Nassau County police headquarters...

John Gerges is escorted out of Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola in 2020. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Merrick man who fatally strangled his ill wife during an argument in their home expressed contrition Monday before a judge sentenced him to more than two decades in prison.

"I hope God will forgive me for what I did," John Gerges, 61, said in Nassau County Court before officials led him out in handcuffs.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Tammy S. Robbins gave the defendant a 21-year sentence as part of a plea bargain that the prosecution and defense agreed to in July when he admitted to manslaughter.

Gerges asphyxiated Marvat Gerges, his wife of 37 years, on Feb. 22, 2020. The violence broke out during a dispute about the cleanliness of their Lindgren Street home and while the defendant was trying to fix a sink in the early morning hours, according to authorities.

The victim was 58 and had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for about 20 years. The defendant had taken a few months off from his job to care for her when an argument broke out that pushed the man to a "boiling point," according to his attorney, Ira Weissman.

The Central Islip defense lawyer said the deadly conflict occurred after the defendant had suffered a pattern of verbal and physical abuse from his wife — a woman who prosecutors said was homebound due to her illness.

Police said after the defendant's arrest that the couple often fought, but that they had no previous record of officers responding to the home for domestic violence.

"A trivial argument sparked a violent attack that cost Marvat Gerges her life," Nassau acting District Attorney Joyce Smith said in a statement Monday. "John Gerges committed the ultimate act of domestic violence and will now spend the next 21 years behind bars paying for his horrific crime."

Law enforcement officials said the couple's adult son heard his parents arguing when he left for work before returning from his security guard job that afternoon and finding his mother home alone on a guest room bed with marks around her neck. He called 911, but she was already dead.

Police questioned and arrested John Gerges after he returned home the next day. A grand jury later indicted him on murder and strangulation charges that had him facing up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

The defendant, who has an associate's degree in mechanical engineering, worked as a product tester for Good Housekeeping magazine for 27 years. He initially claimed innocence as homicide detectives led him to his initial court arraignment, while also declaring then that he had suffered "years of abuse."

Weissman said after Monday's sentencing that John Gerges hopes to get out of prison and rebuild his life after serving his sentence.

"He is a man of faith who regrets what he did and wishes that he had acted differently," the attorney added. "... But he's also cognizant of the fact that, as a religious man, he will face his God for what he's done."

Latest videos

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access