Man shoots elderly wife in alleged 'mercy killing'

Man shoots elderly wife in alleged 'mercy killing'

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George Sanders George Sanders
SUN CITY, Ariz. -

An 85-year-old valley man is behind bars, accused of killing his wife of more than forty years. He told police why he allegedly pulled the trigger – out of compassion, because she asked him to.

Prosecutors are calling this a mercy killing. It's a heartbreaking story.

George Sanders and his wife Virginia had been married for more than 40 years. His wife had been sick and was in a lot of pain.

He told officers she asked him to end her life -- so he shot her in the head.

"He did everything for her. He played the piano, played the guitar and sang to her. He was a wonderful man," says Jarvis Vanklompenberg, who lives next door to the Sanders.

He would always see Sanders pushing his wife's wheelchair around the block. Virginia Sanders had multiple sclerosis and had been in a wheelchair since 1971.

"He gave up golf just to care for her. He was a good golfer, an avid golfer and he did this for her."

Deputies say the couple went to the doctor on Friday and got some bad news about Virginia's medical condition. Later that night, Sanders shot his wife, then called a caregiver to tell her what he did, according to court documents.

Defense attorney Antonio Bustamante recently defended a man accused of manslaughter in an assisted suicide case. The jury deadlocked and that man eventually pleaded guilty to endangerment, a much lesser charge.

"Any jury would have a great deal of sympathy. There's a great deal of sentiment for in favor of people who wish to leave this world," says Bustamante.

Virginia Sanders died at the hospital on Sunday. During his first appearance before a judge, George Sanders had one request.

"I'm so cold and I've been so cold. My back is spasming. Could I be given a blanket or two?" Sanders asked the judge.

He bonded out of jail on a $20,000 bond on Sunday.

Prosecutors actually asked the judge for a lower bond, saying they don't think he's a threat to society. They also say he's never been in trouble before.

Neighbors tell us Sanders was a broker in Seattle before he retired in Sun City.

Related story: 85-year-old Sun City man booked in wife's shooting

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