An ex-Marine with a history of mental illness today pleaded guilty in last year's road-rage incident in South Philadelphia that left a South Jersey man disabled with a gunshot wound of the head.

Christian Squillaciotti, 34, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and possessing an instrument of crime in the Oct. 5, 2008, incident on the Schuylkill Expressway that left Thomas Timko critically wounded.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi set sentencing for Feb. 5.

The judge told Squillaciotti that he faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for the attempted murder count involving Timko and another 20 years for the count involving Timko's eight-year-old daugher, Kaitlin, a passenger in the car who was not physically injured, and five years more on the weapons charge.

Squillaciotti said nothing during the 15-minute hearing except to confirm to the judge that he understood the rights he waived by pleading guilty.

Police said Squillaciotti pulled along the passenger side of Timko's 2001 Toyota Highlander SUV, moments after the two vehicles got on the Schuylkill Expressway from the Walt Whitman Bridge near the Passyunk Avenue exit.

Police say Squillaciotti fired four shots at the SUV, shattering the rear passenger window, and one shot hit Timko in the head.

The shooting followed a vehicular duel between the two that began in South Jersey and ended in South Philadelphia. Though Timko has recovered enough to walk and talk, prosecutors say he suffered significant cognitive problems from the head wound.

Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or jslobodzian@phillynews.com.