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SEAL BEACH, Calif. — The husband of an 86-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of murder after his wife of nearly 70 years was found dead from a gunshot to the head in a Southern California nursing home.

The couple's daughter told the Los Angeles Times the shooting a month before their 70th anniversary was "a mercy killing" by a husband who had long fed and bathed his wife as she suffered from dementia and decline.

Reports of gunshots at Country Villa Healthcare Center came at about noon, and within a few minutes officers arrived from the California Highway Patrol, Orange County Sheriff's Department and three local police departments, Seal Beach police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.

A tactical team surrounded the facility and soon entered.

Inside they found Clara Laird dead of a single gunshot wound to the head, and found her husband Roy Charles Laird, 88, in a nearby chair, Bowles said.

Officers recovered a .38 caliber revolver from the elderly man.

The scene at the nursing home was "chaotic" on a weekend afternoon with many visitors in addition to patients and staff, Bowles said.

Bowles could offer no information on the motive or health of the couple, nor say whether any trouble had been reported between them.

The couple's daughter, Kathy Palmateer, 68, told Times that her father had insisted on helping dress and feed his wife as dementia took hold.

He reluctantly agreed three months ago to check her into Country Villa — near their home in the retirement community of Leisure World — after she took a bad turn and was unable to walk, sit up in a wheelchair, feed herself or recognize many of those around her.

"Her mind was gone," Palmateer told the Times as she waited outside the police station to see her father. "It was a mercy killing."

'A very sweet man'
The couple married in their teens while he was a student at UC Santa Barbara, the Los Angeles Times reported. She raised their two children while he worked as a General Electric engineer, living in Palmdale until moving to Leisure World 20 years ago.

He refused to hire help to care for his wife when she started to become ill with dementia and instead insisted on doing everything for her himself.

When she moved to the home, Laird spoon-fed his wife at meals, going to see her three times a day, the Times said.

"He'd always kiss her goodbye and hold her hand," Nancy Grijalva, a family friend, told the Times. "He would never get mad at her and lose his patience. Whatever she asked of him, that's what he did."

He was "a very sweet man" and was "upset about his wife," neighbor Constance Moore told the Times.

Palmateer briefly met and talked to her father after the shooting, the newspaper said, and discussed his getting a lawyer and getting his medications in jail, she said.

"I just gave him a big hug and we talked," she told the Times.

Palmateer, who was unaware her father has a gun, said he had talked about other men at Leisure World who had killed their ailing wives then taken their own, but added that he had not suggested that he might do the same.

"It's not real to me," she told the Times.

Bowles said prosecutors would decide on charges this week.

"It's just a tragedy all the way around," he told the Times.
Kind of a sad story really.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40310189/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/?Gt1=43001#
 

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This is actually quite a heartbreaking story.

I can't believe there actually considering putting a 80+ year old man in prison for a mercy killing, straight up murder I can understand but this...
 

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Mercy killings are the humane thing to do. This is the case of a law being unethical because of religious pressure and influence.

Our minds, our imagination, our passions and desires are mostly what make us human. When we lose this due to irreversible mental illness or whatever we lose everything that we are. Age is irrelevant. This could be done by a son or daughter and that son or daughter would be doing the right thing, the human thing. To equate this with malicious murder is beyond ridiculous.

It's tragic enough that this happens to loved ones. There is no need to punish the bereaved further by putting them in jail. In effect this unfortunate husband was imprisoned when his wife was taken from him due to dementia. A prison of the mind is the worst kind of all.
 

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I have nothing against the mercy kill myself. I think if I was married to someone for 70 years though shooting them in the head would be kind of a fucked up way to do it though.
 

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Mercy killings are the humane thing to do. This is the case of a law being unethical because of religious pressure and influence.

Our minds, our imagination, our passions and desires are mostly what make us human. When we lose this due to irreversible mental illness or whatever we lose everything that we are. Age is irrelevant. This could be done by a son or daughter and that son or daughter would be doing the right thing, the human thing. To equate this with malicious murder is beyond ridiculous.

It's tragic enough that this happens to loved ones. There is no need to punish the bereaved further by putting them in jail. In effect this unfortunate husband was imprisoned when his wife was taken from him due to dementia. A prison of the mind is the worst kind of all.
You've put it better than I, or anybody else here or following this story could.

This guy shouldn't be punished whatsoever, and I mean whatsoever. To shoulder that responsibility all by yourself, to spoon-feed and care for his life partner out of choice for so damn long outweighs what he had to do. I really hope nothing happens to him.
 

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You've put it better than I, or anybody else here or following this story could.

This guy shouldn't be punished whatsoever, and I mean whatsoever. To shoulder that responsibility all by yourself, to spoon-feed and care for his life partner out of choice for so damn long outweighs what he had to do. I really hope nothing happens to him.
The difficulty in this, and with mercy killing being illegal, is that he made the decision himself. His kids, her friends and the rest of their family never had the chance to say goodbye, he just upped and done it one day. She may of been 'mentally diminished' but as humans they still has the right for final goodbyes to the people they love, and he took that away.

The guy done it out of love and shouldn't face jail, but we, as humans, are more then the sum of our parts and other people have rights too, especially their children.

I speak objectively, I don't have family in that condition and I wouldn't know how I'd react, but he did commit a crime against someone. How to punish it, not a clue
 

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I think a gunshot to the head would be less painful than poison. Surely, in the right spot, it would be quick and probably fairly painless. Not too sure about that though, feel free to correct me.

Still, it would have been an incredibly hard decision to make, but he's been with her for seventy years, so he knew her better than anyone. It sounds like he just put her out of her misery. He obviously did it out of love.
 
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