November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Avon man sentenced to 4 years in wife’s ‘mercy killing’

Robert Shaw, with attorney Kenneth Lieux, is sentenced in Judge Mark Betleski’s court at the Lorain County Justice Center on Monday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Robert Shaw, with attorney Kenneth Lieux, is sentenced in Judge Mark Betleski’s court at the Lorain County Justice Center on Monday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Robert Shaw, 90, was sentenced to four years in prison Monday for killing his wife of 65 years “to put her out of her misery,” as he told Avon police in 2008.

Shaw is eligible for early release after he serves six months in prison under the terms of the deal he struck in June with prosecutors that saw him plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

He originally was charged with aggravated murder, murder and felonious assault for smothering 84-year-old Virginia Shaw on Nov. 13, 2008. So-called “mercy killings” are illegal under Ohio law.

Shaw’s defense has long been that the death of his wife was a mercy killing to end the suffering she was enduring because of her many medical problems, which had caused her to be in and out of the hospital in the months leading up to her death.

Shaw declined to make a statement during the hearing, but his daughter, Carol Patsko, thanked prosecutors and Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski for their understanding of the situation with her parents.

Defense attorney Kenneth Lieux said his client was prepared to accept responsibility for his actions.

“He was resigned to it and he is at peace with whatever came with the court system and made his peace with his family,” Lieux said after the hearing.

The situation was difficult for Shaw’s family, who had supported him since he called police to the Shakespeare Lane home he shared with his high school sweetheart.

Shaw isn’t in the best health himself and had been free on bond while the case against him has been pending.

Shaw’s family declined additional comment as they left the courtroom Monday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.


  • Sis Delish

    How ’bout they put a young delinquent in Jail on this man’s behalf? One of those “paying-it-forward” efforts?

    • WTFnext

      There is a difference between a young delinquent and a murderer. And that is what he is. I don’t care if he is 190 years old. A crime is a crime.

      • Joe Smith

        So you would be for putting insane people in jail for the same thing? A crime is a crime.

      • Bret Zeller

        There should be a victim if there is a crime. Mercy Killing is legal in plenty of civilized countries, but usually done with a doctor’s assistance. The US has a bizarre aversion to death, even when it is more dignified and easier than suffering. Hardly a criminal in my mind. I believe things should be illegal because they are bad, not because someone wrote on a piece of paper that they weren’t allowed, even when it doesn’t concern the state.

      • Sis Delish

        Even Jesus had someone help him temporarily carry The Cross.

  • Phil Blank

    They locked up another man not long ago for the same thing, not long after he entered prison, he died.

  • Tiredandretired

    This just makes my heart ache. This man loved a woman for 65 years and could not watch her suffer any longer. At 90 years old, will he leave prison a reformed man if he survives 4 years? Has he been a career criminal for the last 90 years? This is a travesty, not only to Mr. Shaw, but also his family.

    • WTFnext

      Taking a life intentionally is against the law. Euthanasia is a crime. Isn’t that what Dr. Kevorkian went to prison for? He was only trying to end the suffering of people with severe illness also. Plus, people asked him to help kill themselves. Just because a person is 90 doesn’t mean they can walk around doing whatever they want. Let’s all just wait until we get old and then we can commit murder and get it white washed over into involuntary manslaughter. WHAT A JOKE! INVOLUNTARY?? Did something take control of his body and make him put a pillow over his wife’s face and hold it there until she expired?? You people get on this site and slam every criminal we hear about even when it is simply drug dealing. Now this old white man commits murder and everyone thinks he should have gotten away without any penalty. ABSURD!!!

      • Summer Smart

        Your comment is ABSURD

      • Tom

        You’re talking about this man as if he grabbed a semi automatic weapon and went on a shooting spree. This is a very different situation. You can over generalize it all you want but I hope you never have a loved one who is in the hospital writhing in pain when no drug makes it better.

      • Tiredandretired

        While I appreciate your opinion, I simply do not find this as cut and dried as you seem to. I realize that in society, we have laws which must be followed. Daily, I read about courts offering plea deals to lessen the punishment (or eliminate) in exchange for information or other to benefit them. Does the need of the court make the crime committed less offensive? Less criminal? Are we safer because a career criminal got off on a technicality by a slick lawyer? If the laws were being followed, these things could not happen. Eye for an eye, right? Dr. Kavorkian was well aware that assisted suicide was illegal and made headlines every time he did it. I simply don’t believe Mr. Shaw has been counting the days till he hit 90 and could fulfill that lifelong fantasy of murder.

      • Joe Smith

        “WHAT A JOKE! INVOLUNTARY?? Did something take control of his body and make him put a pillow over his wife’s face and hold it there until she expired?? ”
        Its uncontrolled empathy and compassion for someone you loved for 65 years.

        You can put a dog down to end its suffering but not a human.
        People should get at least the consideration that a dog does.

        You can also grind up a baby during an abortion even late term when that baby would be in good health and had 80 years of life ahead of them but a suffering person at the end of their life must just live with the pain.
        Just wrong

      • Bret Zeller

        It’s involuntary because a reasonable person would likely have done that, despite it being illegal. Additionally, it is a plea agreement, as they likely could not have secured a jury conviction at trial. The Jury has the right to nullify, to release someone even when they break the letter of the law, so long as the jury believes they weren’t really doing anything wrong. In this case, no one doubts his heart was in the right place, and so this was the most the prosecutors could get. He’ll get out in 6 months under the plea agreement in all probability, and if lives that long, justice will have been served.

      • Otter

        “even when it’s simply drug dealing” Seriously? Have you ever watched some you love, slowly, and painfully disappear, over a period of months, or in some cases years? Have you had to listen to the sounds they make, because they can no longer speak, and not be able to do anything to help? Have you had to watch while their hands and feet, then arms and legs lose all their color, because their body is slowly breaking down, and that is just a small part of what really happens. I have. What he did was illegal, yes, but sometimes people do the wrong thing, for the right reason. So save your compassion for your precious drug dealers, they will need it, the next time one of them gets shot.

        • PokerzMyLife

          You do the crime you do the time sorry grandpa… I couldnt just go to the nursing home and shoot my 90 yr old sick grandfather I had to just let nature take its course. If he was black you would be sayin “yay throw that old n!gger in jail”.

    • JewelWaters

      Agreed. Ignore the immature ignorant twits making extremely unwise comments below.

      Completely ridiculous waste “punishing” a man who was courageous enough to show true compassion to his lifelong partner.

  • Summer Smart

    What a waste of taxpayer money.

    • PokerzMyLife

      The cop who choked Eric Garner to death is a waste of tax payer money. He should be in prison right along with this old man. This man smothered his wife to death. Period thats Murder in the first degree. If a black man smothered his wife to death they would give him life without the possibility of parole. Hell they send a falsely accused black man to jail for decades for rape only to find out later the girl was lying. Smh

  • golfingirl

    Could have used that jail cell for about 1,000 other repeat criminals in Elyria.

    These are the ones who need to be removed from the streets for the safety of the residents.

    • PokerzMyLife

      Nope everyone didn’t murder their wife. You do the crime you do the time..I see you alwats disagree with the white criminal s sentence but when a black man goes to jail you are jumpin for joy..you have similar thoughts and beliefs to a racist skinhead

  • grannyof6

    How ridiculous and sad, as if this poor man hasn’t suffered enough knowing what he did out of compassion for his ailing wife of 65 years. Our justice system is so screwed up it’s pitiful!!

  • JewelWaters

    Good on him – having COMPASSION enough to end her suffering, which was all prolonged by narcissistic “doctors”.

    What a waste of money, resources, and taxes by immature, unwise morons.