AKRON, Ohio - An Ohio man wrote an apologetic note before taking a taxi to visit his hospitalized wife, shooting her in the head as she lay in bed and then trying to kill himself before authorities took his gun, a prosecutor said Monday at the start of the man's murder trial.
An attorney for John Wise, who is pursuing an insanity defence, didn't deny the shooting in opening statements but depicted the Massillon man as a loving husband whose mental state declined after his wife was hospitalized, spiraling to a point of despair.
Wise, 68, could face life in prison if convicted of killing his wife, Barbara, in August 2012.
Testimony was expected to continue Tuesday before a jury of seven men and five women. It's not clear whether Wise might testify.
Nothing in Wise's past would have indicated he would fatally shoot his wife of 45 years, lawyer Paul Adamson told jurors in Akron during Monday's opening statements.
Adamson said a psychiatrist serving as an expert witness will testify that 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, diabetes and several others.
"Who in their right mind would take a gun into a hospital and shoot someone?" Adamson said. He said Wise didn't know "the unlawfulness of his act."
Friends of the couple call it a mercy killing, but that's not a legal defence in Ohio.
Wise, dressed in a grey suit and 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," LoPrinzi said.
Wise tried to kill himself in the hospital room after shooting his wife, but the gun jammed and wouldn't fire before authorities arrived, LoPrinzi said.
Two hospital security guards testified Monday about finding Wise sitting in his wife's room with a gun in his hand.
LoPrinzi said that people who suffer cerebral aneurysms sometimes recovery fully and that doctors never had indicated Barbara Wise's condition was terminal.