BELLE VERNON, Pa. (AP) — An 80-year-old man who told police he had a suicide pact with his wife of more than 50 years was charged Friday with criminal homicide.
Edward Friday cut the throat of his 82-year-old wife, Wilma Jean Friday, then slit his own wrists and took 20 opioid painkillers at their home May 22, Rostraver Township police said.
Police found her bleeding and unconscious, and the couple was taken to a hospital. She died two days later of hypovolemic shock, which occurs when a person loses more than 20 percent of his or her blood.
The defendant was discharged from a hospital Friday and jailed without bond, which is automatic in a criminal homicide charge in Pennsylvania. He faces a preliminary hearing June 13.
Assisted suicide is illegal in Pennsylvania. It’s a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison to aid, assist or help someone plan a suicide. If the planning or aiding results in a suicide or an actual attempt, the charge becomes a second-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said that’s irrelevant in this case.
“He did not assist her in committing suicide,” Peck said. “He killed her.”
Criminal homicide is a broad charge that encompasses anything from murder to involuntary manslaughter.
Friday’s attorney said the case was complex and unfortunate.
“It’s tragic, it’s sad, it’s complicated and it’s extenuating,” said attorney Robert Del Greco Jr. He declined to address the specific allegations or comment on whether the couple did indeed have a suicide pact.
“I wasn’t hired to represent a cause. I’ve been hired to represent a client,” Del Greco said.
According to the affidavit, Friday told police that his wife started to cut her own throat but couldn’t do it.
“The defendant further stated, ‘I grabbed the knife and started to cut her throat.’ When asked if he realized he was killing his wife he said yes,” the affidavit said.
Friday also told police his wife “reached up and grabbed his hands to stop him” and he had scratch marks on his arms, authorities said. Wilma Friday had defensive cuts to her left hand and finger, police said.
Police didn’t address a motive for the killing in the affidavit and charges, but they recorded other statements in an earlier affidavit for a search warrant.
“She had a bad hip and other things were wrong with them,” Edward Friday told police in that document. “He said they have lived long enough and were going to die today.”
Neighbors said the childless couple had been married more than 50 years, were retired and appeared to be happy. Wilma Friday had hip surgery after a recent fall, friends and neighbors said.
Edward Friday told police he took the pills once he realized he wasn’t dying from cutting his wrists. He went outside and was feeling faint, then walked back to the house and fell on the floor, which is where police found him after a neighbor noticed something amiss and called 911.