Court accepts insanity plea in Mangekian case

Justin Griffith
Commonwealth Attorney Justin Griffith

Patriot Staff Report


Today the Pulaski County Circuit Court accepted a plea of Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity in Commonwealth v. Mangekian.

Cory Steven Mangekian was charged on April 23, 2021 with First Degree Murder in the death of his mother, Sandra Lee Mangekian.

“This disposition was agreed to by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and supported by the investigating law enforcement officers,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Justin Griffith. “From the start of the investigation, we believed that the violence in this case stemmed from a unprecedented mental health episode. Our beliefs were validated by a written medical opinion from the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.”

Griffith, in a statement released earlier today, said, “In the course of pursuing justice, there are many times that my office must rely on a united team approach and this case is one of them. I am appreciative of the supportive relationship we have cultivated with the Mangekian family. There is no handbook for a family to follow when they are thrust into a crisis. In my opinion, this family has set the bar with their understanding of and their patience with the criminal justice process.

“The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services [DBHDS] will now guide the Commonwealth and the Court through the handling of this case. At some point in the future, Mr. Mangekian will be transferred to Central State Hospital and he will remain there until further order from the court. He will continue to receive treatment and evaluations from both a psychiatrist and a psychologist. There is no current plan in place for this young man that would allow for his release into our community. Our office will continue to work with the DBHDS to ensure that our goal of public safety is being met.

“This young man was released from a mental health facility of another state on the same day this tragedy occurred in our county. He implored his mother not to come get him. He was in the midst of battling delusions in his mind and he had concerns for her physical safety. As any loving mother, she simply wanted to be with her son in his time of need and to play an active part in setting up a plan for his recovery. Unfortunately, this community never got to know a healthy version of this young man or know how the services and amenities our great county could have positively impacted him. Make no mistake, the cancerous like spread of mental illness spares no one in its path. This case was a grim reminder of something our community needed no reminder of. Our office will continue to, not only work with DBHDS in this case, but also work together with other agencies to ensure that our path to justice for the Mangekian family is based on a fully informed decision that factors in both the needs of the Mangekian family as well as the needs of all Pulaski County citizens to remain safe in our community.”

On a tip from a private citizen, Cory Mangekian was apprehended at the Food Lion on Tyler Avenue in Radford.

Two days before, on April 21, 2021, at approximately 3:30 p.m., the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office responded to 6711 Oxford Ave in the Fairlawn Section of Pulaski County in reference to a possible deceased person inside the residence. Upon arrival, units found a female later identified as 60-year-old Sandra Lee Mangekian, of 6711 Oxford Avenue, deceased with a suspicious cause of death.

At the time, her son, Cory was listed as a person of interest in the investigation.