The neurosurgeon who treated Barbara Wise immediately after she was flown by helicopter to Akron General Medical Center told a jury Wednesday there was “no way” her condition should have led to any end-of-life discussions.
Wise, who was 65 when her husband shot her to death one week later, was admitted to the neurological intensive care unit in early August 2012 with three cerebral aneurysms.
Dr. George Markarian testified at length Wednesday that one of the three aneurysms had been leaking blood when she was admitted. But it was sealed, he said, during a surgical procedure known as “coiling.”
Prosecutors then asked Markarian, hypothetically, what he would have said at that point if Barbara Wise’s pulmonary specialist, or any other doctor, had tried to suggest that end-of-life discussions were in order.
“I would have told him he was crazy,” Markarian replied.
The dramatic testimony came on the third day of the aggravated murder trial of John Edward Wise, 68, of Massillon, a Republic Steel retiree who was married to Barbara Wise for 45 years.
Wise, in a wheelchair with his own illnesses, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He is expected to testify in his own defense.
In Monday’s opening statements, attorney Paul Adamson acknowledged that Wise shot his wife but only in an act of mercy. The couple had made a pact, Adamson said, to take such measures if either one endured prolonged suffering from a serious illness.
The jury already has heard what prompted the shooting.
On the night of Aug. 4, Wise was visiting his wife in her room on the third floor of the hospital’s intensive care unit, saw a tear running down her cheek and “snapped,” Adamson said.
Wise and his son went home, and after getting his 9 mm pistol and the living wills that he and his wife had drawn up, Wise returned to the hospital alone in a cab and shot his wife in the left temple.
In other trial developments Wednesday, the jury heard Wise’s first videotaped interview with Akron Detective Sgt. David Garro, night supervisor in the detective bureau of the major crimes unit, which occurred only hours after the shooting.
Wise told Garro that his intentions, leading up to the shooting, were to shoot his wife three or four times, then shoot himself. His gun jammed after the first shot at her bedside.
Within moments, two hospital security officers entered the room, tackled Wise as he sat in his wheelchair attempting to clear the jam and took the gun away.
In the first minutes of Wise’s police interview, with his wife still clinging to life at the hospital, Garro asked Wise what his plan would be if she somehow made it through.
“I couldn’t take care of her,” he said, adding in a soft, hoarse voice that he acted as he did because he didn’t want to see her “laying there like a vegetable.”
Wise was asked again, toward the end of Garro’s interview, what his concerns would be if his wife survived.
“I hope she doesn’t survive so I don’t have to take care of her, or she can’t take care of herself,” he said.
Alone with Garro in a sixth-floor interview room, both men seated at a table in a corner, Wise answered all of the detective’s questions.
“I don’t care much what happens to me,” he said at one point, Garro testified. “I just didn’t want to see her suffering.”
Prosecutors also called an Akron General nurse who was attending to Barbara Wise in the neurological unit following Markarian’s surgery.
Summit Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi asked her a series of questions about her discussions with John Wise and his son after the surgery. She said she never told them that Barbara Wise’s condition was terminal “in any way.”
She also recalled talking to them about long-term possibilities, assuring them that: “A lot of times with neuro patients, it takes a full year to recover.”
When LoPrinzi asked her if she had any indications that John Wise was not in his right mind during their discussions, the nurse answered firmly: “Absolutely not.”
In addition to one count of aggravated murder, Wise also faces single counts of murder and felonious assault and gun specifications attached to all three charges.
Conviction on a gun specification alone carries a mandatory three-year prison term that must be served before any sentence for a principal offense.
Wise’s trial resumes today.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com.