I'M NOT JUDGING ANYONE BUT I BELIEVE EVERYONE HAS SOME SAY WHEN THEY HAVE A TERMINAL ILLNESS. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Wife's death was mercy killing, husband's family says
by The Oregonian
Wednesday February 06, 2008, 10:55 AM
Friends and family of John Roberts, the Gresham man arrested in the death of his wife, Virginia, say her death Saturday was not a cold-blooded attack but an act of compassion for a woman living with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.
John Roberts' brother and daughter and a close family friend told The Oregonian that Virginia's ALS had worsened in the weeks leading to her death on Saturday. They say John Roberts hinted to them that Virginia had asked him to help take her life when she no longer wished to carry on.
Friends and family of John Roberts say Virginia Roberts was born in Guatemala. No members of her family could be immediately reached for confirmation of her reported disease.
"There is a story that makes this not just a murder," said Greg Roberts, a former Seattle police detective and John Roberts' brother. "It is my firm belief that this was a pact between the two of them, that she asked him to do this.
"And part of the reason why they chose this method rather than going down the assisted suicide route was that she was so proud that she didn't want to let herself get into the condition she would need to be in before they'd be allowed" to participate in Oregon's Death with Dignity program, which requires a person to be within six months of death.
Police arrested Roberts on an accusation of murder after receiving a 9-1-1 call at 9:44 a.m. Saturday. The caller said he shot someone.
Inside the couple's one-story home at 4160 NE El Camino Drive, police found Virginia Roberts dead from a single gunshot wound to the head. Police are not releasing the recording of the 9-1-1 call. Roberts remains in jail without bail.
Roberts' attorney, Angel Lopez, and Don Rees, a Multnomah County senior deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, declined to comment. Gresham police Capt. Tim Gerkman also declined to discuss specifics of the investigation.
"We're trying to track down all leads and possible motives, or prove or disprove different theories or reasons that this crime was committed," Gerkman said.
A grand jury is scheduled to review the case on Friday. Roberts is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.
According to the ALS Association, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive disease affecting nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Those with the disease are eventually robbed of their ability to control muscle movements, leading to paralysis. About 80 percent of those diagnosed with the disease die within five years.
The ALS association estimates that 5,600 each year are diagnosed with the disease and about 30,000 Americans may have the disease at a given time.
-- Brad Schmidt