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JUDGE SAYS 81-YEAR-OLD WAS NOT A MERCY KILLER LIFE SENTENCE WAS APPROPRIATE, HE SAYS

JUDGE SAYS 81-YEAR-OLD WAS NOT A MERCY KILLER LIFE SENTENCE WAS APPROPRIATE, HE SAYS

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The judge who sentenced Roswell Gilbert to a life prison term for killing his ailing wife said the retired engineer did not deserve clemency because it was an act of murder, not mercy.

``Roswell held himself above the law. Not one of us has that right, and punishment is appropriate,' Circuit Judge Thomas M. Coker Jr. said in a letter to Gov. Bob Martinez. The letter was released Friday.State officials commuted Gilbert's life sentence Wednesday and freed the ailing 81-year-old inmate Thursday, after he had spent more than five years in prison.

Coker objected to descriptions of the 1985 shooting death of Gilbert's 72-year-old wife, Emily, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, as a mercy killing.

``It is indeed my sincerest hope that the media will eventually cease and desist from referring to this homicide as a mercy killing,' the judge wrote. ``There can be no serious question that it was murder, and not mercy.'

A television movie of the killing and trial, starring Robert Young as Gilbert, was titled ``Mercy or Murder?'

``Nowhere in the record of this case is there any suggestion that Mrs. Gilbert ever asked her husband to kill her,' Coker said.

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