One-on-one with George Sanders, convicted of manslaughter - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

One-on-one with George Sanders, convicted of manslaughter in mercy killing

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PHOENIX -

"It is very clear that he will never forget that his actions took the life, ended the life of his wife."

A judge last week ruled that 86-year-old George Sanders of Sun City received no prison time for the mercy killing of his wife. This rarely happens.

Sanders' story is so compelling -- even prosecutors advised against prison. Most view the killing of his 81-year-old wife Ginger as the ultimate act of love and devotion. FOX 10's John Hook sat down with Sanders.

Their love story began when they were teenagers. Scotty, as George is known, remembers it vividly.

"We went to the old palladium and we danced and I remember we came home and she sat on my lap and that's when I kissed her the first time... the first of millions."

The two were inseparable through 63 years of marriage and 3 children. He provided constant care for Ginger as her multiple sclerosis worsened over the years.

"Ginger couldn't turn over in bed, when she needed to turn over I turned her over."

On November 9th last year, Ginger was facing amputation of her foot from gangrene.

Worst of all, she would end up in a nursing home, separated from her husband. She begged Scotty to end her life.

"I said honey I can't… I got the gun up against her head and I said I can't do this... and she said ‘do it do it just do it' and she had that tone of voice and I let loose the hammer and it was done."

He then called 911 saying, "Yes my name is Sanders I just shot my wife."

Hook: "How much discussion went on about this that night? Are we talking hours?"

Sanders: "Oh no we're talking less than 15 minutes. That's the only time we ever even thought of it."

Hook: "It never came up before that?"

Sanders: "It never came up, it never even occurred to us."

He'd just lost the love of his life at his own hand -- and now he was facing prison.

"I knew what I did and why I did it and now I'll take whatever was handed out. I was raised that way," said Sanders. "I kissed her goodbye before I ever went and got the gun and I kissed her and I tried to take a picture, but I couldn't get the camera set up. I said we need to leave something for the kids."

Scotty has no regrets.

Hook: "Do you wish you hadn't done it even though Ginger wanted you to?"

Sanders: "No I don't wish I had not done it, because she wanted it done and her only alternative was to go through hell in a hospital and a nursing home."

And his family never doubted him.

"They knew I loved her and she loved me and this is what she expected me to do and they didn't have any doubts at all."

Last week, a judge agreed. Scotty was found guilty of manslaughter, but the judge gave him probation. No prison time.

What advice does he have about others grappling with cruel end-of-life decisions?

"Go somewhere where it's legal or get some laws changed in this state and every state."

Ginger was cremated. And now she and Scotty are once again together.

"I set her ashes up on the piano. It makes me feel real good to have her there and as long as it does, it's going to stay there."

Ginger had been in poor health for the past 40 years. George said he never considered it a burden taking care of her -- he said the time with her was a blessing.

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