Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Murder / Suicide - 90-Year-Old Man Charged

The Associated Press reports on this sad story.

A 90-year-old retired physician has been charged with killing his terminally ill wife at their Southern California home but remains hospitalized after turning the gun on himself.

Dr. James Fish was charged Monday with voluntary manslaughter and could face 21 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities say Fish apparently wanted to end his wife's suffering when he allegedly shot 88-year-old Phyllis Fish on Sunday at their Leisure World home in Laguna Woods.

District attorney's spokeswoman Susan Schroeder says Fish gave the bedridden woman morphine and first used a gun that didn't fire. A caretaker called 911, but prosecutors claim Fish got another gun and shot both his wife and himself in the head.

There's certainly a big difference between this case and the frequent incidents of abusive male gun owners shooting their wives. I find it almost hard to believe this man will be charged with anything.

On the other hand, I realize we cannot allow people to decide willy-nilly when euthanasia is appropriate. I would never condone people taking guns out of their closets to address medical emergencies, but in this case I feel only sympathy for Dr. Fish.

What's your opinion? Although this is an extreme twist on "doctor assisted suicide," do you think what he did is morally acceptable? Does this present more evidence of my own confused stance? I'm opposed to capital punishment, pro-choice on abortion and pro-euthanasia in certain cases.

What do you think?

(Cross posted on Man with the Mud-Rake)


  1. This is a rare case where the actions might be morally justified, but are and should remain illegal. In this case, I would accept an affirmative defense that the wife consented, if proven.

    The punishment doesn't matter much in this specific case, any jail term longer than a slap on the wrist is effectively life.

  2. Morally justified, indeed. Today the stories are coming out about how ill the wife actually was.