Essay: The Quality of Mercy Killing

If it were only a matter of law, the public would not feel stranded. He killed her, after all. Roswell Gilbert, a 76-year-old retired electronics engineer living in a seaside condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., considered murdering his wife Emily for at least a month before shooting her through the head with Luger as she sat on their couch. The Gilberts had been husband and wife for 51 years. They were married in 1934, the year after Calvin Coolidge died, the year after Prohibition was lifted, the year that Hank Aaron was born. At 73, Emily had Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis;...

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