The sister of an Akron man who pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his elderly mother urged a Summit County judge Tuesday to spare her brother from prison.

“This was not the result of malice or anger,” Elizabeth Stewart said of the actions by her brother, Michael Gleisinger. “He had fallen prey to an untreated medical condition.

“We failed Michael,” Stewart continued, referring to how the family didn’t realize the stress Gleisinger was under caring for his mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, while battling his own mental health problems.

The family urged Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison Breaux to impose probation and mental-health treatment. Breaux, however, said she thought prison time was warranted and sentenced Gleisinger to four years. He will be eligible for an early release after six months.

Gleisinger, 49, pleaded guilty last month under an agreement with prosecutors to reduced charges of involuntary manslaughter and failure to provide for a functionally impaired person. He could have received up to 11 years in prison.

Police said Gleisinger stabbed his mother in the chest and abdomen May 16, 2017, in the kitchen of their Goodyear Heights home. Nancy Gleisinger, 76, was taken to Summa Akron City Hospital, where she later died.

Michael Gleisinger, who has suffered from mental health issues for much of his life, was originally charged with murder and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial and confined last November to Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare System in Northfield. Doctors recently deemed him competent to stand trial.

Jeff Laybourne, Gleisinger’s attorney, said in court documents that Gleisinger had lived with his parents for about 10 years and became the primary caregiver for his mother a few years ago when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He said Gleisinger gave his mother medicine, cooked her meals, bathed her, helped her to the bathroom and cleaned the house. The only task Gleisinger didn’t perform was shopping because he didn’t like to leave the house.

Gleisinger’s role became more difficult when his mother’s condition deteriorated in the months leading to her death. In those months, she often became confused, hallucinated, wandered off, fell down and didn’t not recognize her family. The family discussed putting Nancy in a nursing home, but were reluctant because of a negative experience with Gleisinger’s grandfather at a nursing home, according to court documents.

Gleisinger told a psychologist that on the day he stabbed his mother with a kitchen knife, he “got this overwhelming feeling to end it for her, end her suffering.”

Assistant Prosecutor Greg Peacock said during the sentencing that having someone with mental illness care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s was a “recipe for disaster.” However, Peacock said Gleisinger made the decision to end his mother’s life when he had other options available to him.

“Some would say Nancy Gleisinger had already died — that she wasn’t the same person,” Peacock said. “She still was a living breathing human being who could feel pain. I don’t think this was a mercy killing. He chose to end her life.”

Peacock suggested six years in prison would be appropriate.

Laybourne, however, noted that his client had no prior criminal record and the likelihood he would commit future crimes was low. He said Gleisinger’s mental and physical health has improved since he was treated at Northcoast and expressed concern that he wouldn’t receive the additional mental health assistance he needs in prison. He urged the judge to put Gleisinger on probation that included counseling.

Gleisinger didn’t feel comfortable speaking during the sentencing, but Laybourne read aloud a letter he wrote.

“It was wrong for me to take matters into my own hands,” he wrote. “I want to say I am sorry to everyone in the family.”

Breaux told Gleisinger that she can’t imagine what he went through caring for a person with Alzheimer’s when he was having his own mental health problems. She also said she can’t imagine the final moments of his mother’s life. She said she will consider granting Gleisinger an early release if he has no issues in prison and will reach out to prison officials to make sure they are aware of his mental health issues.

After the sentencing, Laybourne said he and Gleisinger’s family appreciate the empathy shown by Breaux and Peacock and were satisfied with the sentence. The family hopes Gleisinger will be released early.

“They wanted him to come home, but were more than happy with the way it was handled,” Laybourne said.

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.