Man Won't Face Death Penalty in "Mercy Killing"

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UPDATE 1/23/2014:
William Dresser was in Carson Justice Court Thursday morning to hear the charges against him. He did not enter a plea, but was assigned a public defender, and he will be in court again February 7. Prosecutors announced they will not seek the death penalty.


CARSON CITY, NV -- The woman shot Sunday morning in a Carson City hospital has died. The Carson City Sheriff's Office says 86-year-old Francis Dresser died at Renown.

Her husband, 88-year-old William Dresser, is charged in her murder, but he says the killing was an attempt to end his wife's suffering.

It had been more than two weeks since Francis Dresser tool a hard fall. According to statements William Dresser gave police, Francis was left paralyzed and no longer had a will to live. The pair had been married 63 years.

"That's why he believed what he did was the right thing to do," said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.

William Dresser shot his wife and planned to kill himself, but the gun jammed. With his wife now dead, Dresser is charged with murder, even though it's believed she requested the killing.

"It wouldn't matter if she said she didn't want to live another day, it wouldn't matter if she said she wanted to die. That does not give another human being the right to take a life," said Furlong.

"You don't get to take a firearm into a public building and do this," said Carson City District Attorney Neil Rombardo.

There is no statute for a mercy killing in Nevada. Even in states where euthanasia is legal, it wouldn't be allowed like this.

"It wouldn't be legal this way. It would be done by a doctor. It would be done under medical supervision and I believe there has to be court orders and things of that nature," said Rombardo.

According to the law, what happened inside Carson Tahoe Regional Medical center is murder. A complaint filed Wednesday shows the crime will be tried as an open count of murder.

"The law requires us not to take the emotional side but to what our statutes define," said Sheriff Furlong.

The District Attorney however has discretion in how those statutes are applied.

"The great thing about Nevada law is it says the DA's job is to seek justice and so that's our goal here is to find justice," said Rombardo.

What remains to be seen is just what's considered justice in this tragic case.

William Dresser is currently being held in the Carson City Jail. Because of the circumstances of his arrest, he is on suicide watch. He'll be arraigned in court Thursday morning.