PHOENIX, AZ (March 29, 2013) – George Frazey Sanders (D.O.B. 3/24/1927) will serve two years of unsupervised probation for intentionally aiding his 81 year-old wife to commit suicide. The sentence imposed today by the Honorable John Dittsworth follows Sanders’ guilty plea to one count of Manslaughter.
“Today’s sentence is an appropriate one given the entirety of the facts and circumstances in this particular case,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Nevertheless, this office remains committed to holding accountable anyone who unjustly takes an innocent life, regardless of the reason given. Mercy killing, also known as euthanasia, is not permitted in Arizona and is not an excuse for murder,” he added.
On November 9, 2012, Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in Sun City after receiving a call that a woman had been shot in the head by her husband. A female caller who identified herself as a caretaker for Virginia Sanders told the MCSO Communications Center that Virginia’s husband, George Sanders, had just called her and stated that he had just shot Virginia in the head. At around the same time, George Sanders called the Sheriff’s Office via 911 and stated he shot his wife in the head and that she had asked him to shoot her because she was in pain.
Deputies arrived at the residence and found George Sanders sitting in a chair on the front porch. They found Virginia Sanders in the kitchen area of the home seated in a wheel chair bleeding from an apparent gunshot wound to the right side of her head. A revolver was on the kitchen floor just to the right of the wheel chair. Virginia appeared to be making breathing sounds and was transported by helicopter to John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital where she later died.
In an interview with detectives, George Sanders described how he had been Virginia’s main caregiver for the last four decades. He explained that his own health had been declining and that he had a pacemaker implanted several days earlier. Sanders said that at a recent doctor’s appointment, Virginia was diagnosed with gangrene in her leg. Her doctor wanted her to go immediately to the hospital for surgery and then to a nursing home, a prospect Virginia viewed as a virtual death sentence. Rather than go to the hospital, the couple returned home to talk things over.
Sanders told detectives that while they were at home, they received a call from Virginia’s doctor asking why they had not gone straight to the hospital. George said Virginia told him they had to “do it now.” George then retrieved his gun, placed a towel on one side of Virginia’s head, put his gun to her temple on the opposite side and fired.
George was booked into the 4th Avenue Jail on November 10, 2012 for Attempted First Degree Murder. Virginia died in the hospital the following day.