Akron police officers had a brief talk with John Wise in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 shooting death of his 65-year-old wife in the intensive care unit at Akron General Medical Center.
It occurred in the early hours of Aug. 5, after the officers had taken Wise into custody and were about to lead him upstairs to the sixth-floor detective bureau at police headquarters.
Officer Ryan Rastorfer, the last witness jurors heard Tuesday, on an abbreviated second day of Wise’s murder trial in Summit County Common Pleas Court, said he and another officer were preparing to switch the handcuffs on Wise, from back to front, so he could move more easily into the elevator in his wheelchair.
Rastorfer’s partner cautioned Wise “not to do anything stupid” as they were moving the cuffs.
Rastorfer told jurors: “He said, ‘No, I already did something stupid — that stupid gun,’ ”
When Rastorfer left the witness stand, Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands adjourned court at midday.
The panel also was shown, only briefly, a police photo of Wise’s mortally wounded wife, Barbara, in her hospital bed after she was shot once in the left temple on the night of Aug. 4.
Wise turned his back on the photo as soon as it was posted on the courtroom television. He stared down at his notepad on the defense table until the image was removed.
Charged with one count of aggravated murder with prior calculation and design, another count of murder, felonious assault and firearms specifications attached to all three felony charges, Wise could be sentenced to life in prison.
Trouble with handgun
According to Monday’s testimony, Wise’s 9mm handgun jammed as he sat at his wife’s bedside in his wheelchair. He struggled to clear the jam after the first shot, hospital security officer Rodney Sheppard said, before Sheppard and another security officer tackled him and took the gun away.
Wise, a 68-year-old Republic Steel retiree from Massillon who is confined to a wheelchair with his own array of illnesses, is not disputing the fact he shot his wife.
In Monday’s opening statements, defense attorney Paul Adamson said Wise did so in an act of mercy a week after she was admitted to the hospital’s neurological intensive care unit for treatment of a massive cerebral aneurysm.
An Akron General pulmonary specialist, Dr. Michael A. Passero Jr., who had treated Barbara Wise, testified earlier Tuesday that her case did not appear to be terminal.
In fact, on the morning of Aug. 4, Passero recounted how she was doing early that morning during his rounds.
“This whole time, she was breathing on her own,” he said.
She could not answer any questions from hospital staff, but Passero said she was able to open her eyes, respond to the stimulus test for pain and was not in any distress.
Summit Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi followed up on that testimony, asking if it appeared Barbara Wise was suffering in any way.
“No,” Passero replied.
He testified further that he had no contact with John Wise regarding any questions he might have had about his wife’s recovery.
LoPrinzi then asked Passero if he had any discussions with Wise about removing his wife from life support.
“Mrs. Wise was not on life support. She was breathing spontaneously, so there was no need to do that,” Passero testified.
Before Monday’s trial proceedings began, both sides met with Rowlands in open court to put the issue of plea deal discussions on the record.
LoPrinzi told the judge that Wise was offered a plea to manslaughter with a firearms specification, with no agreed sentence for that crime, but Wise turned down the offer.
The trial resumes at 10:30 a.m. today.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com.