Sun City man facing prison in wife's mercy killing

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Sun City man accused of fatally shooting his ailing 81-year-old wife says she asked him to do it because she didn't want to spend the rest of her life in a nursing home.

"She never wanted to outlive me and be left at the mercy of someone else," George Sanders tells a Maricopa County Sheriff's detective in an interrogation video released Monday by authorities.

Sanders, who turns 86 on Sunday, could face either probation or up to 12 1/2 years in prison when he's sentenced March 29.

He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter on Feb. 19 after originally pleading not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.

Virginia "Ginger" Sanders was found shot in the head inside the couple's home last Nov. 9 and died two days later in a hospital.

George Sanders told authorities it was a "mercy killing" because his wife had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for years and was in diminishing health with a gangrene diagnosis on several of her toes.

He said she was about to be hospitalized and eventually placed in a nursing home, where she thought she would die.

Sanders said he was her primary caregiver, but the World War II veteran's health was also in decline. Just days before the shooting, doctors installed a pacemaker in his chest.

On the interrogation video filmed a few hours after the shooting and his arrest, Sanders told the investigator that he didn't want to kill his wife, but she begged him to do it.

"I went and got the gun and she said, `Is this gonna hurt?' And I said, `You won't feel anything,'" Sanders said. "So I had the gun up against her head and I had a rolled up towel so the bullet wouldn't go somewhere in the kitchen.

"She was saying, `Do it. Do it. Do it.' And I just let it go" and pulled the trigger, Sanders said. "I don't know if she's alive or dead."

In the video, George Sanders is then seen laying his head down on a table and apparently sobbing.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.