Man pleads guilty to killing his wife in exchange for probation
MONTPELIER — A former Bear Lake County doctor pleaded guilty on Thursday to shooting and killing his wife last year.
Robert Dwight Degnan, 88, pleaded guilty to felony manslaughter as part of a plea agreement signed with prosecutors that amended the charge from first-degree murder, according to court records obtained by EastIdahoNews.com. Investigators say he shot and killed his wife of 59 years, Marjorie O. Degnan, 79, on Sept. 6, in what he said was a failed suicide pact.
As part of the plea agreement, Degnan will be placed on 15 years of probation with an underlying suspended five to 15-year prison sentence. The plea agreement is binding upon District Judge Mitchell Brown, meaning he must follow the terms of the plea agreement.
When investigators arrived at the Degnan home south of Montpelier, they found the gruesome discovery of his wife. He told investigators he and Marjorie planned to both die that day, but the force of the gunshot blinded him and caused him to lose the firearm before he could pull the trigger on himself.
For several hours, Degnan reportedly stayed at the home before calling 911. According to court documents, Degnan also told investigators he and his wife had planned the joint suicide months before.
There was no suicide note found at the crime scene.
According to Marjorie Degnan’s obituary, she met her husband in 1962 at New York Hospital where Robert Degnan was a resident. The couple had eight kids and ultimately moved to Bear Lake County where Robert Degnan, an OB-GYN, worked at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital.
“Until the very end, Midge’s truest love was Bob, to whom she was forever devoted,” the obituary reads. “It is impossible to describe the grief the family feels at this time. Their comfort comes in knowing Midge is free from suffering. Her legacy shines on through her husband, Dr. Robert Degnan; her eight children (and other family members).”
Once placed on probation, Degnan will be required to live in a Pocatello assisted living facility. He will also have to wear an ankle monitor and won’t be permitted to leave the center without a prior court order. Degnan will also not be allowed to contact any of his children without their consent, according to the plea agreement.
Degnan is scheduled to receive his sentence at the Bear Lake County Court in Paris on Aug. 19 at 9 a.m.