A Massillon man sentenced to prison for the 2012 shooting death of his bedridden wife at an Akron hospital died this week while in custody at Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, his attorney said Tuesday.
John Edward Wise was given a negotiated six-year prison term for felonious assault last December.
In a hearing before Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands, both sides had agreed that leniency was in order because Wise acted not out of malice but as an act of love to end his wife’s suffering from a series of cerebral aneurysms.
Wise was 68.
He met his wife, Barbara, at a Massillon hamburger joint when they were in their 20s. They were married 45 years.
The Ohio Parole Board had scheduled a full board hearing for Aug. 11 to consider Wise’s request for executive clemency from the governor, and preparations for the hearing in Columbus were underway.
Paul Adamson, Wise’s attorney, said Wise died about 3:30 p.m. Monday at the state-run corrections facility where seriously ill inmates are held. The apparent cause of death was a heart attack, Adamson said.
“Ironically, I was talking to his son Mark between 3 and 4, probably at about the same time he passed, because we were working on issues on the upcoming clemency hearing,” he said.
Early Monday evening, after returning home, Adamson said, Wise’s son called to break the news about his father’s death.
“I was just reading through our clemency petition,” Adamson said, “and that was going to be part of our position — that it was not likely he would survive.”
Wise’s best friend, Terry Lee Henderson, with whom he worked for many years before retiring from Republic Steel with 35 years of service, was planning to visit Wise at Franklin on Thursday, Adamson said.
Wise was admitted to the Franklin County facility Dec. 20, only days after his sentencing, and would have served out the remainder of his term there, Adamson said.
Trial testimony showed that Wise suffered from severe diabetes, heart problems and a degenerative back condition. He was in a wheelchair for most of his trial.
Although he was convicted by a jury on all charges — aggravated murder, murder and felonious assault — Summit Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi said afterward that sending Wise to prison for aggravated murder would have been “unduly harsh based upon the unique circumstances of the case.”
Under Ohio case law, LoPrinzi said the prosecutor’s office felt it was permissible to choose a sentencing option on a lesser offense, and Rowlands then approved the six-year term.
Wise was given three years on the felonious assault charge and three additional years, a mandatory sentence, for a gun specification.
Testifying in his own defense, Wise told the jury that the shooting took place when he “snapped” at his wife’s bedside after seeing a tear running down her cheek.
Barbara Wise, who was 65, was not on life support during her brief stay at Akron General Medical Center, but she never regained consciousness and could not speak.
LoPrinzi, the lead prosecutor at Wise’s trial, told the court last year that the agency was strongly opposed to any request for judicial release or clemency out of respect for the jury’s original verdicts.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.