A New Hampshire man was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison Friday for beating his wife to death with a flashlight after he came home to find she had strangled their 4-year-old son with a ribbon and tried to kill their 7-year-old daughter.

Christopher Smeltzer, 38, pleaded guilty to killing Mara Pappalardo, who was hospitalized several times for mental illness. Prosecutors say she was paranoid, obsessed with death and convinced her husband and mother-in-law were plotting to take her children away.

“When I walked into the room, as soon as I saw my son, I knew something was very wrong,” Smeltzer told the court before he was sentenced, his voice breaking at times. “I knew he was dead. And I lost all control. Enraged, I struck my wife. I did something that was not going to bring my son back.”

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