published Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

No charges for California man, 88, in death of sick wife

SAN DIEGO — An 88-year-old man who was arrested shortly after the death of his wife on suspicion of aiding in her suicide won’t be charged with any crime, San Diego County prosecutors decided Wednesday.

Prosecutors determined that the case against Alan Purdy couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, said Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the district attorney.

The office routinely declines to explain why charges won’t be filed in cases they decide not to pursue, Sierra said.

Margaret Purdy, 84, was found dead with a bag over her head in March, and her death was ruled a suicide by the county medical examiner.

Family said the woman battled a series of ailments as her husband doted on her in her final years, and had attempted suicide before her death.

Family members were opposed to the criminal charges against Alan Purdy, who was released on $15,000 bail after the arrest.

“I’m delighted to hear this,” Purdy’s daughter Catherine Purdy, a Berkeley psychologist, told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday. “I feel like justice has finally happened.”

Her father, Purdy said, “is very lonesome and unhappy. He lost his wife, and then to have to wait for this decision — it’s been very hard on him.”

The Times reports that the once vibrant woman left a suicide note on her desk after being bedridden in her final years from severe pancreatitis, an autoimmune disease, a crumbling spine and three fractured vertebrae that never healed.

At the time of the arrest, the couple’s son-in-law John Muster, told The Associated Press that it wasn’t the first time Purdy’s wife had tried to commit suicide.

“She had mentioned for some time that she was under a great deal of pain and that this was a very hard life,” Muster said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Berkeley. “It was a great life. I loved her dearly and I’m sorry she’s gone. I’m not going to second-guess her choice.”

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