CARSON CITY, NEV.: An 86-year-old Nevada woman shot by her husband while hospitalized died Wednesday and her spouse of more than six decades was charged with murder, authorities said.
Frances Dresser of Douglas County died from injuries suffered when she was shot once in the chest Sunday at Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center, Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said.
Her husband, William Dresser, 88, told officers he planned to “end his wife’s suffering” by killing her and then himself, but his gun jammed, police said.
The circumstances bear similarity to the 2012 fatal shooting of Barbara Wise, 65, at Akron General Medical Center. The Massillon woman was in the intensive care unit after suffering triple cerebral aneurysms that had left her unable to speak, a family friend said. Her husband, John Wise, said he shot her out of love and intended to kill himself, but the gun jammed. He was sentenced to six years in prison; his son has petitioned Gov. John Kasich for clemency.
In Carson City, District Attorney Neil Rombardo said William Dresser was charged with “open murder” with use of a deadly weapon.
Rombardo said open murder gives him discretion to amend the charges as more facts about the case emerge. Nevada law does not recognize or make a distinction for so-called mercy killings, he said.
Furlong described Dresser as emotional but stable, adding he has some “significant” health problems and is on suicide watch.
“I’m not sure he was aware that she was alive,” Furlong said. “He intended to end her suffering, and he caused more.”
William Dresser was arrested Sunday after firing one shot at his wife with a small-caliber handgun.
The shooting happened in the hospital’s rehabilitation ward, where Frances Dresser was being treated for a previous injury. According to a police report, William Dresser told officers he had brought four bullets — two for his wife, two for himself — but the gun jammed after the first shot.
State Department of Corrections officers who were nearby and hospital security subdued William Dresser until deputies arrived.
After the shooting, Frances Dresser was flown to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, where she died three days later. Authorities were investigating William Dresser’s claims that his wife became paralyzed and incapacitated after a fall at the couple’s home two weeks ago.