Denise Gallagher's family wanted her husband, Michael, to spend at least one day in jail.

Instead, he'll spend at least three months behind bars.

Yesterday, Common Pleas Judge William Mazzola upheld Michael Gallagher's Municipal Court conviction for abuse of a corpse and his sentence of three to 23 1/2 months.

Also, Mazzola sentenced him to three to 23 months - to be served concurrent to the first sentence - after Gallagher yesterday pleaded guilty to simple assault in the 2004 beating of his wife. Bail was revoked.

As the sentence was read, the victim's family wept, sighed with relief and applauded.

"We just want him to know what it feels like to hear that jail door slam," said Denise's brother Greg, who asked that his last name not be printed.

Gallagher, 42, was found dead on Aug. 14, 2005, inside the Northeast Philadelphia home she shared with her husband. The cause of death has never been determined, and the medical examiner could not rule it a homicide.

But Gallagher was charged with abuse of a corpse because he did not report his wife's death for at least 24 hours, authorities said. Also, when the body was found, it was clad in a T-shirt and underwear, and her jean shorts were pulled down over her head.

Court records show that Gallagher had been arrested six times for allegedly attacking his wife. The use of his record in the Municipal Court trial was among the grounds cited by his attorney, Laurence Narcisi, in appealing the conviction.

In the assault case, Gallagher was charged with punching his wife, throwing her across the room and hitting her with a glass candle holder. Mazzola dismissed more serious charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats and possession of an instrument of crime.

Commenting on the abuse-of-corpse conviction, Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson said, "Death couldn't protect Denise Gallagher from her husband.

"By his own admission, Michael Gallagher did nothing to help her."

Gilson said that what was done to Denise after her death would "outrage the ordinary sensibilities of Denise's family or any family," and that it was motivated by his "hatred and loathing for the victim."

Amid hugs, smiles and tears, Denise's brother Ed, who also asked that his last name not be printed, said, "We were able to give her her dignity back in death that he took from her in life." *