Man who killed sick wife at hospital 'out of love' to make insanity defense

A 68-year-old man who walked into his longtime wife’s Ohio hospital room and fatally shot her — allegedly "out of love" — intends to tell jurors he was mentally impaired at the time, his attorney said.

John Wise is a photo provided by the Summit County Sheriff's Department. AP file

Jury selection in the case accusing John Wise of aggravated murder starts on Monday. He has pleaded not guilty and has been under house arrest.

Wise, of Massillon, Ohio, will ask for the jury's understanding, not sympathy, defense attorney Paul Adamson told The Associated Press in an interview published on Sunday.

Police say Wise calmly walked into the neuroscience ICU at Akron General Medical Center on Aug. 4, 2012 and shot his wife of 45 years in the head. Barbara Wise, 65, died the next day.

Before the shooting, she had suffered triple cerebral aneurysms that left her unable to speak.

Wise could face life in prison if convicted.

Adamson said Wise "is doing OK, but things are never going to be great for him."

"He's stable, but he's still grieving, I guess is the best way to describe him, for the loss of this life," Adamson said.

Wise has been described as a loving husband who killed his wife out of mercy and the case has raised questions about how much punishment he should receive for such an act.

But mercy isn’t a legal defense in Ohio, Adamson said, so he will put forward an insanity defense for Wise based on severe depression.

"Our burden there is to establish that he was suffering from some severe mental disease or defect at the time he committed the offense, and as a result he didn't understand the wrongfulness of what he did," Adamson told the AP.

"Now he did it out of love, but he wasn't thinking rationally when he did it."

Among those expected to testify at the trial is Dr. Michael Passero, who was doing his rounds at the hospital when he heard “a weird, single popping sound.”

Passero said in an interview with a local TV station that after hearing the noise he entered the room and found John Wise sitting in a chair next to his wife holding a gun.

"He then spoke to me and said, 'Please tell me that she's dead.' And, I looked at her and I spoke very quietly and I said, 'I'm sorry. She's not dead.' I then turned to him and said, 'I can take care of this. I can help. I want to help your wife, but I need you to give me the gun.'”

Terry Henderson, a friend and co-worker of John Wise, said that he believed that the couple had made a pact not to let each other suffer if either had a serious medical emergency.

John Wise suffered from diabetes and nerve damage that made his hands and feet numb and had survived bladder cancer, according to Henderson.

Prosecutors declined to discuss the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Mercy killing or murder? Attorney says Ohio man accused in hospital shooting acted out of love