Donald J. McNeely, 54, told a detective that his wife had previously asked him to shoot her, court papers show.
McNeely was being held for investigation of first-degree murder. His family packed the back of the courtroom during an initial hearing on Thursday.
Public defender Donald Wackerman asked that his client be released, saying that McNeely isn't a threat to himself or the community.
"This is a very sad and unique circumstance, your Honor," he said.
Prosecutors argued that first-degree murder is a serious offense and asked the judge to set bail at $500,000 while the facts of the case are investigated.
Everett District Court Judge Tam Bui said she was hesitant to release McNeely, in part because there were still firearms in his home. She set bail at $500,000 and agreed to reconsider the matter on Friday.
The extra day would give law enforcement or family time to remove the guns from the house, Wackerman said.
McNeely called 911 a little after 3 p.m. Wednesday to report the shooting. Snohomish County sheriff's deputies went to the couple's home in the 1100 block of 202nd St. SE, north of Bothell.
They found the woman's body inside. Her name hasn't been released.
According to court papers, McNeely called dispatchers and asked for an ambulance and police.
He reportedly told dispatchers that he "could not stand it anymore" and that he was sorry.
Police surrounded the home and ordered him to come outside and surrender, court papers show. At some point, the couple's adult children arrived at the property and ran into the home. The three came outside soon thereafter.
Investigators searched the home and found a revolver sitting on an empty medical bed and several other guns in the house.
The man reportedly told detectives that his wife was sleeping on the couch at the time of the shooting. He said he sat next to her with the gun for about two hours before firing it, court papers said.
The couple's son told police that his mother had been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, and his father had been caring for her in recent years. The woman's condition was withheld in court papers.
The son told police that his father had probably "reached his limit," deputies wrote.
The couple's daughter told detectives that about four months ago, she overheard her mother ask her father to shoot her. The daughter told her father not to do it.
The family declined to speak with reporters on Thursday.
McNeely's only past offense was a license-plate-renewal violation from more than two decades ago, his attorney said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org
More Local News Headlines
Three weeks out, only four 911 texts have been valid County deputy director named president of state engineers association Accident victim has endured, thanks to his family, police officer Crews try to save man pulled from Stillaguamish River State’s oldest full-time worker on the job at EdCC Lord Hill levee repairs to start July 29 Less than a week before election, only 9.1 percent of ballots returned Red Cross on the lookout for heroes
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.