Bothell man sentenced to two years for mercy killing of wife

A Bothell man was sentenced Thursday for killing his wife, who asked him to take her life last spring as she was suffering from a brain tumor.

Donald J. McNeely was sentenced to two years in prison including time served for the second degree murder charge in Snohomish County Superior Court. Judge Thomas J. Wynne handed down the exceptionally low sentence in the case. The standard sentencing range for the crime is 10-16 years in prison.

"The court finds that the defendant does not pose a risk to of harm to the community," wrote Wynne in sentencing documents. "The court finds that to a significant degree the defendant was a willing participant to the incident. The court finds that the defendant's actions were intended to be humanitarian rather than criminal and designed to end the suffering of the deceased."

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office reported that McNeely, who was 54 at the time, called 911 and said he shot his wife at about 3 p.m. on March 14.

He was arrested after deputies responded to the 1100 block of 202nd Street Southeast and found Linda McNeely, 52, dead inside under a blanket. The couples' two children drove past patrol units and ran into the house shortly before their father was arrested.

McNeely voluntarily surrendered to police and walked out of his home with his two adult children by his side, court documents continued.

One of the deputies on the scene noted that the younger child, a 21-year-old man, told him that his mother had been diagnosed with brain cancer a few years ago and that his father was caring for her. The man noted to the deputy that he guessed his father had reached his limit, court documents continued.

In an interview with one of the deputies, according to documents, McNeely said his wife had previously asked him to shoot her. McNeely said while his wife was sleeping on the couch, he got his gun and sat next to her for approximately two hours.

McNeely's daughter said in an interview with detectives that her father called her cell phone on the afternoon of March 14 and said that he was sorry and that he loved her. Also in court documents, the daughter explained that approximately four months ago, she heard her mother ask her father to shoot her. The daughter told her father not to do it.

After conducting a search, one of the detectives noted that McNeely had a current concealed-pistol license issued to him that expires in 2016, according to documents. McNeely has five guns in total registered to him.

As a part of the sentencing, McNeely will also be remanded to community custody for three years after being released from prison and has to pay $800 in legal fees.


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