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Orange County Bar Association

Orange County 88-Year-Old Charged with Murder in “Mercy Killing”

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo

By any measure Roy Laird appeared to be a doting husband when it concerned his ailing 86 year old wife Clara. Even as she deteriorated to the point where her daughter described her mind as being “gone”, he continued to take care of her. Finally, he reluctantly put her in a senior home. Then on November 21, 2010 he intentionally shot her in the head with a gun killing her.

The couple’s 68-year-old daughter described the act as a “mercy killing” because of her mother’s incapacitated state. However, the Orange County District Attorney has charged him with murder in the death of his wife. While there is some sympathy for Mr. Laid from the public and even his family, the law does not have a mercy killing exception to murder in these “vegetative state” situations.

This issue is reminiscent of the situation with Dr. Jack Kervorkian who assisted those with terminal illnesses with committing suicide. Dr. Kervorkian was found guilty of breaking the law even though he did not actually directly cause the person’s death. He would just show them how to administer the poison which eventually killed them.

Mr. Laird of course moved directly in killing his wife. Mr. Laird is facing a life sentence or as much as 50 years for this killing. Of course any sentence at his age would be a life sentence. This case brings to light the horrible angst the incapacitation of a loved one can bring.

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