Husband Shoots Wife: Murder or Mercy Killing?


On August 4, 2012, John Wise (pictured above) walked into the Intensive Care Unit at Akron General Hospital in Akron, Ohio. According to published reports, Mr. Wise carried a concealed weapon and one shot was fired at his wife. The day following, Barbara Wise was declared brain dead.

In the video below, you'll see a report from a local news station. According to a local newspaper, murder charges are likely in this case. But, many people are asking why a husband would shoot his wife in this fashion? There have been many reports that Mrs Wise was in a debilitated state and that her husband wanted to end her suffering - thereby being a "Mercy Killing." 

Hopefully, as the court case develops (Mr Wise will appear via video in an Akron, Ohio courtroom on Tuesday), more details of the case will be released. What we do know is that one week prior to the shooting, on July 28, paramedics were called to their home, and then transported to a Massillon, Ohio hospital. When patient was transported to Akron General is unknown at this point.

When is it Murder and When is it a Mercy Killing? These are the questions that an eventual jury will have to face. But, of course, the court of public opinion will weigh in as well. These questions have been asked for a long time in the medical ethics (and legal) world with the more news prominent cases involving people like Jack Kevorkian and Terri Schiavo.

In addition to these questions, others have been raised like "[Is the] Hospital Shooting A Breakdown of Caregiver Support System?" And, of course, the gun control zealots are out there are raising their issues, especially with the recent high profile shootings in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Aurora, Colorado.

This case has interest to me because Akron, Ohio is only 45 minutes from where I am right now, and many people at our local hospital are talking about this. I could be wrong, but I think that this case will re-ignite a national debate on end-of-life issues. Without knowing any of the specific details, I predict that this man will be convicted of murder and will spend the rest of his life in jail.


Addendum: This morning, Mr. Wise was placed on a $1 million bond by the court. It's also interesting what people on facebook are saying, at least on a Cleveland news station. Check it out here.