Understanding And Prosecuting 'Mercy Killings'

August 21, 2013

Two recent cases in the Valley brought the term “mercy killing” to the forefront. In one, 86-year-old George Sanders shot his wife, Virginia. He said she insisted that he kill her to alleviate her suffering, related to a number of health problems, including multiple sclerosis.

In the other case, 78-year-old Howard Rudolph shot and killed his 73-year-old wife Earlene inside their Sun City home. Rudolph has been charged by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office with second-degree murder.

Sanders had faced a manslaughter charge and was ultimately sentenced to unsupervised probation. The cases have been prosecuted by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. County Attorney Bill Montgomery gives his perspective.

Daniel Orenstein continues our discussion on so-called "mercy killings." He is the Lincoln Fellow for ethics and health policy at the O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

For more about aging and end of life decisions, Dr. Georgia Hall weighs in. She is a clinical associate professor in the department of family and community medicine at University of Arizona's College of Medicine in Phoenix.