Criminal Law and Mercy Life Termination Considered
Recently, in our local newspaper there was an 86-year old man who had been taking care of his wife for 5-years in a nursing home. To save what little money he had he went three times per day to visit and feed her, even though she could barely move or even remember his name. The old man was running out of money and he could no longer afford to support his wife, and he had sold his home and moved into a very small apartment, he was almost completely broke.
He loved his wife, or so his friends told the police. After feeding his wife lunch one afternoon, the old man pulled out a gun and shot his wife one time in the head. He did not leave the scene, he just stay there and held her hand. When the police came to take him away he didn’t resist and he was crying. His daughter told a newspaper that it was a mercy killing, and that he cared more about his wife than anything else in the world.
Now then, as a society what are we to do about something like this. It is against the law to kill someone obviously, and Mercy killings are not allowed in the United States. And no one can commit to assisted suicide when they have very-late stage Alzheimer’s. There was not a thing that could be done to help the woman with modern medicine. There may be someday, but not today, not yet. And the husband could no longer afford to care for her. Sometimes criminal law, ethics, and highly debated social topics enter the fray of what we as a society feel is fair.
When students study criminal law, they need to be cognizant of the reality of the real world. Obviously this was a crime, it was a murder by legal definitions, and it was obviously premeditated, so should we put the old man in jail for the rest of his life? You be the judge, and I hope you will please consider all this.