A Lindenhurst man was sentenced to 24 years in prison Wednesday for choking and stabbing his ex-wife to death as the couple went through a downward financial spiral.

Muhammet Karadag, 53, mumbled a few words -- inaudible in the courtroom except "I'm sorry" -- before sentence was imposed in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead by Judge Martin Efman.

Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl read a three-page letter in court from the family of the dead woman, Gulcin Karadag, 49, saying she had been an energetic woman who managed a cellphone store before a disability forced her to quit work a few years ago.

The couple had divorced but remained in the same home because neither wanted nor could afford to move out, according to the letter, signed by the dead woman's brother, Tim Yalcin of Boca Raton, Fla.

The letter said Muhammet Karadag had lived in a trailer in Amityville and spent much of the time surfing the Web before they met and married. She got him to take a construction job, they bought a house in Lindenhurst and raised two children, now adults, the letter said.

The couple developed financial problems and their home went into foreclosure, but "he didn't want to return to being insignificant again," the letter said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Police said they found the husband, a self-employed carpenter, unconscious after he tried to overdose on prescription drugs in his battered Chevrolet Tahoe at Sore Thumb Beach in Babylon about 5:15 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2010.

His wife's body was wrapped in a blanket in the backseat and police said she had been stabbed and strangled. Their home on Erie Avenue, which went into foreclosure in 2009, had been set on fire about an hour earlier, police said.

The letter described Gulcin Karadag as an ebullient woman who loved to host dinner parties and cook the food of her native Turkey. Until her disability, she had been a store manager for T-Mobile on Long Island, whose selling ability led to a series of assignments at stores with lagging sales to help boost business, the letter said.

Karadag's attorney, Joseph Hanshe of Sayville, said the events surrounding the case "are devastating," and his client "has expressed extreme remorse for what happened."

Karadag will be eligible for parole after serving about 21 years, a spokesman for the district attorney's office said.