By THOMAS J. SHEERAN, Associated Press
MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) — 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 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.
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 there are numerous signs around the main entrances prohibiting them, 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, Gosky said. A distinctive pop sound drew a physician's attention to respond, too. Akron police soon followed.
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 on Tuesday in Akron Municipal Court. He was in police custody at an undisclosed location on Monday, and no attorney had been assigned to him.
Barbara Wise's autopsy was rescheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday, and it will likely upgrade John Wise's attempted aggravated murder charge to a more serious type of murder charge, police Capt. Dan Zampelli said.
John Wise was going to court with that initial charge because it was filed Saturday, said 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, Wise surrendered to hospital security and was restrained until police arrived. He has cooperated with investigators, Zampelli said.
The Wises lived in a brick bungalow with well-kept landscaping on a short street in Massillon, 25 miles south of Akron. No one answered when an Associated Press reporter knocked on the door Monday.
Neighbor 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 John Wise shot his wife in a mercy killing, Zampelli said. Police are still trying to determine why Barbara Wise had been in the hospital, though he 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," Zampelli said.
Emergency personnel responded to the Wises' home on July 28 for a medical call, Massillon fire Chief Tom Burgasser said. Privacy rules prevented him from releasing additional information, but he said the fire department treated a patient for a medical condition that involved advanced life support including oxygen and a heart monitor.
Burgasser could not confirm if the patient was Barbara Wise but said the patient was taken to Affinity Medical Center in Massillon. A hospital spokeswoman said she could not disclose any information about patients because of privacy rules.
Associated Press writer Barbara Rodriguez contributed to this report from Columbus, Ohio.