AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man who said he fatally shot his hospitalized wife out of love because of her debilitated condition that left her unable to speak, was convicted by a jury on Friday and could face life in prison.
Police say John Wise, 68, calmly walked into Barbara Wise's hospital room on Aug. 4, 2012, and shot her at her bedside. She died the next day.
Barbara Wise, 65, was in the intensive care unit at Akron General Medical Center after suffering triple cerebral aneurysms that had left her unable to speak, a family friend has said.
Wise testified that he couldn't stand to see his wife of 45 years in pain in the hospital.
"She opened her eyes and looked at me like she was in pain and a tear rolled down her cheek," Wise told the jury this week. "I decided then what I was going to do."
Hours later he returned to the hospital with a gun.
"My recollection is that I walked in there, and within two minutes, I kissed her on the cheek and shot her," he said.
Mercy is not a defense to a murder charge in Ohio. However, defense attorney Paul Adamson said in closing arguments Friday that Wise acted out of love.
"He was not there out of hate. He fully believed he was doing the right thing, not the wrong thing," Adamson told jurors.
Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi said Wise's attorney was asking jurors to decide the case on mercy.
"They are asking you to ignore the law and find him not guilty," LoPrinzi said.
After the verdict, LoPrinzi said Wise declined an offer of a reduced charge of manslaughter, which would have carried a maximum 14-year sentence. Wise will have to serve a minimum of 23 years, LoPrinzi said. He's scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18.
Adamson said he still believed in the case. "But I respect the jury's verdict," he said.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours Friday.
Shortly before the verdict was read, Wise leaned across the table and shook the hands of the prosecutors, telling them he knew they had a job to do.
"No hard feelings, although I disagree with you 100 percent," LoPrinzi said Wise told them.
He was immediately taken into custody following the verdict.
Those who know Wise say he was a loving husband devastated by his wife's sudden disability. Some describe the shooting as a mercy killing.
Terry Henderson, who worked with Wise for years at a steel plant, said the couple had agreed they didn't want to live out their years bedridden and disabled. He called Wise an exemplary husband without a hint of domestic violence.
Wise told police he intended to kill himself after shooting his wife, but the weapon jammed. He surrendered to hospital security and was restrained until police arrived and was later placed on house arrest.
Police say they found an apologetic note written by Wise in the hospital room.
Dr. Michael A. Passero Jr., who confronted Wise in the intensive care unit moments after the shooting, told The Associated Press that Wise had told him, "Please tell me she's dead."