AKRON, Ohio — A man accused of shooting his wife of 45 years in a hospital intensive care unit in what may have been a mercy killing was charged Wednesday with aggravated murder, and his attorney said the man always acted out of love.
John Wise appeared before a municipal court judge in Akron via video from jail Wednesday morning. No plea was entered. He must return to court Aug. 22.
Wise, who lived with his wife in Massillon, is accused of shooting her at her bedside in the ICU unit of Akron General Medical Center Saturday. She died the next morning.
His attorney, Paul Adamson, said after the brief court session that the unfolding case would show Wise acted out of love.
“I’m thoroughly convinced he’s a good man. I think his past history bears that out,” Adamson said.
“Forty-five years of marriage, blessed to be deeply in love with his wife throughout those 45 years, and I am absolutely confident that everything that he’s ever done for his wife has been done out of deep love, including the events that just recently transpired.”
Wise appeared in court Tuesday and was apparently confused about initially being charged only with attempted murder, asking “Is she not dead?” Visiting Judge Marvin Shapiro told Wise that he would soon have an attorney who could answer his questions.
Prosecutors upgraded the charge to aggravated murder after an autopsy showed that Barbara Wise died from a gunshot wound to her head. A county medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.
Nurses on the hospital floor where Barbara Wise had been in critical condition in the ICU for several days at first thought an oxygen tank had exploded when they heard a popping sound, a 911 caller told a dispatcher.
A woman, who identified herself as a nurse, said she and others looked into the room and saw a man dressed in black. “We saw him sitting there with a gun. He was, like, loading it,” she said.
The caller said she didn’t know if anybody had been shot, but she heard screaming as she hid in a room.
Why Barbara Wise was in the hospital hasn’t been released.
Emergency personnel responded to the Wises’ home a week before the shooting for a medical call that involved advanced life support, including oxygen and a heart monitor. Hospital and emergency officials have said they can’t disclose any information about patients because of privacy rules.
Wise entered the hospital on Saturday 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. A doctor nearby heard a distinctive popping sound, he said.