THOMAS J. SHEERAN
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man suspected of shooting his wife in the head in her hospital bed was scheduled for his first court appearance as police awaited autopsy results that could affect the charge against him in the possible mercy killing.
Police said the results of an autopsy, expected to occur Tuesday or Wednesday, could cause the attempted aggravated murder charge against John Wise to be upgraded to a more serious type of murder charge. Wise was to appear in Akron Municipal Court on Tuesday.
Barbara Wise, 65, was incapacitated and in the intensive care unit before her husband of 45 years stood at her bedside and shot her on Saturday with a handgun, said Akron assistant city prosecutor Craig Morgan, who wouldn't specify the woman's ailments. She was declared dead on Sunday.
John Wise entered his wife's room at Akron General Medical Center and fired at least one round from the handgun, police said. Hospital officials said one shot was fired.
Violating hospital policy prohibiting guns on its campus, 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, said hospital spokesman Jim Gosky.
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, 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 hurt.
John Wise, 66, was in police custody at an undisclosed location on Monday. No attorney had been assigned to him.
He was going to court with the initial attempted aggravated murder charge because it was filed Saturday, said Morgan, who expected the charge to change based on the evidence and the death. He wouldn't say if the charge would be upgraded to murder or reflect a mercy killing.
Wise surrendered to hospital security after the shooting. He has cooperated with investigators, police Capt. Dan Zampelli said.
"Certainly him wanting to end his wife's suffering is one of the motives we're looking into," Zampelli said.
Police were still trying to determine why Barbara Wise had been in the hospital, though Zampelli confirmed she had been in critical condition and in the ICU for several days.
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.
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.