Elderly Whitehall man gets prison time for beating wife to death

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PITTSBURGH - An Allegheny County judge sentenced a 77-year-old man to prison for 6 to 12 years Friday for bludgeoning his wife to death with a pipe wrench.

Joseph Manning pleaded guilty but mentally ill to third-degree murder in February for the death of his wife, Mary Manning, 71, in the couple's home on Brant Drive on March, 31, 2012. No one from his family attended the hearing.

“I am full of remorse and I think of my wife and children every day,” Manning told Common Pleas Judge Thomas E. Flaherty.

As Manning asked for leniency, he said he “wanted to contribute to the world rather than being hopelessly wasting precious time in jail.”

Charles LoPresti, Manning's lawyer, called the sentence “fair, appropriate and just.” LoPresti said his client has had mental health problems since the 1950s and was on 24 different medications when he killed his wife.

“This is one of the most sad and tragic cases I've had in 25 years,” LoPresti said.

Manning, of Whitehall, will receive 25 months credit for time he's served in the Allegheny County Jail.

LoPresti and Flaherty said they will recommend Manning serve his sentence at the state prison in Somerset because it has a specialized unit for geriatric inmates.

Manning could be released on parole, pending a psychological evaluation, in as soon as four years.

“The victims are the children left behind. But Mr. Manning is a tragic figure,” LoPresti said.

Police found Mary Manning's body in a recliner in the home and a cast iron pipe wrench nearby. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said she died of blunt-force trauma, including multiple fractures of the skull.

Manning called 911 after killing his wife, police said, and he had a “significant amount of blood” on his clothes when he exited the home carrying a knife.

Police officers used a Taser on Manning when he refused to put the knife down and continued to walk toward them. Manning said he wanted officers to kill him.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.