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Published: Tuesday, 8/7/2012

Hospital shooting investigated as mercy killing

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MASSILLON, Ohio -- A woman whose husband of 45 years is accused of shooting her in the head in her hospital bed in a possible mercy killing had been in the intensive care unit in an extremely disabled state, a prosecutor said on Monday.

Barbara Wise was incapacitated before John Wise stood at her bedside and shot her on Saturday with a handgun, Akron assistant city prosecutor Craig Morgan said.

John Wise entered his wife's room at Akron General Medical Center and fired at least one round from the handgun, police said. One shot was fired, hospital officials said.

Barbara Wise, 65, was declared dead on Sunday morning.

She had been at the hospital in a "previously extremely disabled state," said Mr. Morgan, who wouldn't specify her ailments.

"The evidence would suggest that all those things were in place before Mr. Wise allegedly went in there and shot her," he said.

Mr. Wise entered the hospital through the main entrance and went up to his wife's room without drawing any attention, apparently keeping the handgun concealed, hospital spokesman Jim Gosky said.

Hospital policy does not allow guns on the hospital's campus, and numerous signs around the main entrances say guns are prohibited, Mr. Gosky said.

Hospital security officers ran from the ground floor's emergency department to the ICU's third floor following a code silver, which alerts the hospital that someone has a weapon, Mr. Gosky said.

A distinctive pop sound drew a physician's attention to respond, too. Akron police soon followed.

Mr. Gosky said it appeared no one else was in the room at the time of the shooting, and no one else was harmed in what he called "an isolated incident."

John Wise, 66, has an initial court appearance today in Akron Municipal Court.

He was in police custody at an undisclosed location on Monday.

Ms. Wise's autopsy was rescheduled for today or Wednesday, and it will likely upgrade Mr. Wise's attempted aggravated murder charge to a more serious type of murder charge, police Capt. Dan Zampelli said.

Mr. Wise was going to court with that initial charge because it was filed Saturday, said Mr. Morgan, who expected the charge to change based on the evidence and the death.

He would not say if the charge would be upgraded to murder or reflect a mercy killing.

After the shooting, Mr. Wise surrendered to hospital security and was restrained until police arrived.

He has cooperated with investigators, Captain Zampelli said.

The Wises lived in a brick bungalow with well-kept landscaping on a short street in Massillon, 25 miles south of Akron.

Crystal Maxhimer, who lives two houses away, said she knew the couple only in passing. She said she frequently saw them working on their yard together.

Officials are looking into whether Mr. Wise shot his wife in a mercy killing, Captain Zampelli said.

Police are still trying to determine why Ms. Wise had been in the hospital, although they confirmed she had been in critical condition and in the ICU for several days.

"Certainly him wanting to end his wife's suffering is one of the motives we're looking into," Captain Zampelli said.



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