(SEATTLE, Wash.) — A Washington man was sentenced to two years in prison for shooting his terminally ill wife in what his family said was a mercy killing.
Donald McNeely, 55, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Thursday. His adult children asked a judge for mercy and insisted their father killed their mother, who had an inoperable brain tumor, out of compassion.
“I think that was his only option,” said Nikki Bryant, McNeely’s daughter.
“He loved my mother,” she told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle. “He still loves her very, very much.”
On March 14, 2012, McNeely sat with his wife, Linda, who had just returned from hospice care. He watched her for two hours as she slept before he delivered one shot to her ailing body.
McNeely called 911 around 3 p.m. that day and told the operator he “could not stand it anymore,” according to the police report.
He then called his two adult children, who rushed to the scene as he surrendered to police.
The body of 52-year-old Linda McNeely was found draped with a blanket in the home, with a pistol lying nearby, according to the report.
McNeely told police his wife had asked him several times over the course of her illness to shoot her.
Washington is one of two states that has a “Death With Dignity” Act. The law allows terminally ill adults who are of sound mind and have been given six months or less to live the right to obtain prescription drugs that will speed up their deaths. Oregon is the only other state with a similar law.
The McNeelys had considered the option, but Linda McNeely was not a candidate because of her cognitive deterioration, the Everett Herald reported.
Donald McNeely had faced a maximum of 18 years in prison.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Christine Killimayer, KHNT
Euan McKirdy and Natalie L. Gallón, CNN