KINGMAN — A Mohave Valley man told a judge last Friday that he killed his girlfriend early this year to end her suffering.
Mohave County Superior Court Judge Derek Carlisle ordered a 13-year prison term for James Manker, 28.
It was revealed during the sentencing hearing that Manker became severely disabled when he drove drunk and crashed a vehicle as a teenager about a decade ago. His friends told the court that Manker struggled to live a normal life after the accident and his loneliness led to his relationship with Tina Stimmell, 56.
Manker’s confession to law enforcement authorities already has been reported widely and he repeated his admissions during Friday’s hearing.
“t was a suicide pact,” Manker told the judge. “The worse part of it is I didn’t follow through with it. She is gone and I will live with that forever.”
Following his arrest in late January, Manker told detectives that Stimmell’s kidney failure was progressing and that they agreed to turn the gas on in their home, hoping to go to sleep and never wake up. When the plot failed, Manker used a .38 special and fired three shots through a pillow placed over her head as Stimmell slept in a recliner in the living room of the home they shared on South Needles Drive.
Manker’s friend of 20 years, Paul Angelotti, told the court that the couple was miserable and that it was compassion that motivated Manker to commit a murder that some have characterized as an act of euthanasia.
“He just got tired of seeing her sick and hurting,” Angelotti said. “He knows what he did was wrong. He loved her and it’s something he’s got to live with for the rest of his life.”
Manker was convicted of second-degree murder through a plea agreement. In imposing a 13-year sentence, Carlisle settled for the middle of a possible prison range of 10 to 16 years.
“He feels horrible about what’s happened,” defense attorney Robin Puchek said of Manker. “He’s probably willing to accept whatever punishment you give him.”