4/01/2013

A Mercy Killing







A man in Arizona, 86 year old George Sanders, was charged with killing his 81 year old wife, Virgina.  He put a gun wrapped in a towel to her head.  Mr. Sanders pulled the trigger and Virginia was dead.  Mr. Sanders only did this after his wife, Virginia, begged and pleaded with him to kill her.  Virginia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969.  George became her only caregiver.  He washed her, fed her and even applied her makeup.  But, Virginia's condition continued to deteriorate.  She had one of her feet diagnosed as having gangrene, possibly losing her entire foot.  She was slated to be sent to a nursing home.  Virginia did not want to die in a nursing home.  Rather than go to the nursing home, Virginia begged her husband of 62 years to end her life.  Out of love, out of respect, he complied with her last request even though it weighed heavily on his heart and soul.   George Sanders was initially charged with first-degree murder and that was lowered to manslaughter.  But, even if convicted of manslaughter, George Sanders was looking at 12 years in prison, which essentially was a life sentence for the 86 year old man.  Mercifully, the judge sentenced Mr. Sanders to unsupervised probation.

I've often wondered how someone can be in so much pain, agony and depression to want to end their life.  But, I decided long ago to not judge a person.  I can't say I would not do the same thing as Mr. Sanders.  No one knows the agony of a terminally ill person such as Mrs. Sanders.  I hope and pray I am never faced with such a decision.  I have always prayed I would die in my sleep without a prolonged period of pain.  But, of course, no one gets to decide how they die.  I pray that I never have to go to a nursing home as Mrs. Sanders faced.  It is just a place where you are waiting to die.  That would be sheer agony right there.  But, it would be a prolonged agony.  Both Mr. and Mrs Sanders did what they felt was right for them.  I am thankful the judge in this case did the right thing.  Sentencing Mr. Sanders to prison would not have been the right thing to do.  But, surely, other cases of this magnitude will come up again and again.  How will society handle this sort of crime (and despite it being a mercy killing, it was still a crime)?  I'm not smart enough to know the answer.  I don't condone assisted suicide.  I am not going to condemn it either.  This is something that will have to be between the dying person and God.

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