Yetraj Mangar kept his head bowed Wednesday as he was asked if he recalled pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the bludgeoning death of his wife.
Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Sise posed the question to the Guyanese immigrant during his sentencing Wednesday morning.
Mangar whispered that he didn’t, but the judge wasn’t convinced.
“I was here and you took the plea before me,” he said during the court proceeding.
Nor did Sise seemed swayed by Mangar’s claim of having slipped into a haze of mental illness when he struck 56-year-old Jaiwanti Mangar with a single fatal blow to the back of her head in October 2008.
Mangar, 61 tried to blame the attack on a bipolar disorder diagnosed in Guyana and later by the Schenectady County Probation Department’s pre-sentencing investigation.
“I have a mental disease,” he told the judge during his sentencing. “This is why I do these things. I was not in my right mind.”
Sise acknowledged the diagnosis. However, he said many people suffer similar mental disorders without exhibiting the level of aggression that he displayed on the day of his wife’s death.
Mangar was ultimately sentenced to serve 15 years in prison with five years of post-release supervision. The sentence was far lighter than the 25 years to life he could have faced on his original charge of second-degree murder.
But prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge to manslaughter upon his family’s request, among other factors. Mangar also lacked a prior record.
Assistant District Attorney Michele Schettino said Mangar exhibited a “history of anger” around his wife and family members, indicating a “less than stable” home life in their residence. She also indicated that Mangar’s claims of mental illness were almost wholly unsubstantiated, other than through his own remarks that a record exists in his native Guyana.
“None of the defendant’s medical records indicated a mental illness or mental disease,” she said.
Mangar’s claims of a mental disorder were expected to be a focus of his defense.
Following Mangar’s plea in January, defense attorney Kent Gebert indicated an evaluation after the killing found his client not competent to stand trial.
Mangar was later examined by two specialists who were split on the issue of competency. But an examination by a third doctor found him fit for trial.
Jaiwanti Mangar, known to those in her church as “Sister Satie,” was a soft-spoken, hard-working and religious woman, according to those who knew her. She immigrated to the United States in the hope of giving her family a better life.
Police investigators indicated the couple had argued prior to the fatal blow. Apparently, the dispute centered around Mangar’s desire to return to Guyana and his wife’s determination to stay here.
Jaiwanti Mangar was found dead in the family’s Division Street duplex with severe skull fractures and brain injuries resulting from blunt force trauma.
Gebert indicated Mangar might have been suffering withdrawal from excessive use of sleep medication purchased in Guyana when he struck his wife.
Two men who attended Mangar’s sentencing were identified as family members. Neither spoke during the sentencing, and one said “no comment” afterward.