AKRON — An Ohio man who believed his wife’s medical condition was worsening “mentally snapped” and shot her to death as she lay in a hospital’s intensive care unit, a defense attorney said Monday during opening statements of a murder trial.
Nothing in John Wise’s past would have indicated he would fatally shoot his wife of 45 years, lawyer Paul Adamson told jurors in Akron as he pursues an insanity defense for the 68-year-old Massillon man.
Mr. Wise could face life in prison if convicted of killing his wife, Barbara, in August, 2012.
Mr. Adamson said a psychiatrist serving as an expert witness will testify that Mr. Wise’s mental state declined in the week before the shooting as he struggled with his inability to help his wife and his own physical ailments, which included chronic heart disease and diabetes.
“Who in their right mind would take a gun into a hospital and shoot someone?” Mr. Adamson said. He said Mr. Wise didn’t know “the unlawfulness of his act.”
Friends of the couple call it a mercy killing, but that’s not a legal defense in Ohio.
Mr. Wise, seated in a wheelchair, appeared teary-eyed in court as a prosecutor recounted how the defendant visited his wife at the hospital days after she suffered a brain aneurysm.
He returned home and wrote an apologetic note, then took a taxi back to the hospital, armed with a gun his son had given him for security, Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi said.
“He had a gun, a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. He put it in a bag, and he writes a note: ‘I’m sorry for the way I did this. Do not resuscitate,’ or words to that effect,” Mr. LoPrinzi said.
Mr. Wise tried to kill himself in the hospital room after shooting his wife, but the gun jammed and wouldn’t fire before authorities arrived, Mr. LoPrinzi said.
Mr. LoPrinzi said that people who suffer cerebral aneurysms sometimes recovery fully and that doctors never had indicated Barbara Wise’s condition was terminal.