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Husband charged in fatal hospital shooting of wife: 'Is she not dead?'

Summit County Sheriff Department

John Wise is accused of shooting his wife in the head in a hospital intensive care unit.

AKRON, Ohio -- An Ohio man accused of shooting his wife in the head in a hospital intensive care unit appeared confused about the attempted murder charge against him on Tuesday and asked the judge, “Is she not dead?”

John Wise, 66, of Massillon, made his first appearance in Akron Municipal Court on Tuesday. He appeared before the judge via video from jail on an aggravated attempted murder charge, according to The Associated Press.

During the court proceedings, Wise appeared perplexed about the charge against him, asking whether his wife of 45 years was indeed dead. 

Visiting Judge Marvin Shapiro didn't answer his question. "We're going to get you an attorney who will be able to answer all of your questions for you, sir," Shapiro told him, the AP reported.

Wise is due back for arraignment on Wednesday. His bond was set at $1 million. Prosecutors say they will make a final determination on the appropriate charge in the case after a grand jury conducts an inquiry into the shooting.

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Autopsy results released Tuesday determined the cause of Barbara Wise’s death on Sunday was a gunshot to the head. The case was ruled a homicide by Summit County medical examiner, clearing the way for prosecutors to consider upping the charge against John Wise to murder.

Police say Wise shot his wife while standing at her bedside Saturday evening in the neuroscience ICU at Akron General Medical Center. Police said Barbara Wise had been in critical condition for several days.

Wise surrendered to hospital security after the shooting and has cooperated with investigators, according to police.

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Jim Gosky, spokesperson for the medical center, said he could not give the reason for Barbara Wises’ admittance to the ICU or her length of stay, citing patient privacy laws

Prosecutor Craig Morgan said Wise made a statement to detectives after his arrest but he would not go into detail about what was said.

"We know this is not a random act of violence," Morgan told Reuters. "Everyone would like to label this as a mercy killing but we need to clarify facts.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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