Ohio hospital shooting: Mercy killing or murder?

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Those who kill a loved one to end the suffering are acting out of their interests, he said. “We’re really putting Grandpa out of our misery,” Smith said.

Wise’s lawyer has said that he was a good man who was devoted to his wife.

“I am absolutely confident that everything that he’s ever done for his wife has been done out of deep love, including the events that just recently transpired,” said attorney Paul Adamson.

The former welder also suffered from nerve damage that made his hands and feet numb, survived bladder cancer and had diabetes, said Terry Henderson, a 30-year steel plant co-worker.

Those issues could help his case if it goes to trial. “The facts surrounding her death are sympathetic and may actually foster a plea before trial,” said Jeff Laybourne, a prominent Akron defense attorney.

But just because his wife may have been suffering isn’t a valid defense under the law, Laybourne said.

Other factors that could determine whether the case goes to trial include the timing of the shooting and that it happened in such a public place.

Henderson thinks Wise may have snapped under the weight of both of their health concerns. “He never dreamed, given his history of medical problems, that this would happen to her before he’d go,” Henderson said.

That kind of situation can be deeply depressing for a person dependent on the care of a spouse who suddenly is disabled, said Dr. Peter DeGolia, a physician specializing in care for the aging at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

“If this man was dependent on his wife for care and basic well-being, and suddenly she’s gone, he’s going to feel very vulnerable, highly at risk,” he said. “Older white males are the highest risk group for carrying out suicide plans.”

It’s a scenario that DeGolia said can be defused with help from social workers and hospice care for the dying.

“There are lots of options,” he said, “aside from going and shooting them.”

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Seewer reported from Toledo.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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