TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A woman was indicted by a grand jury on charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of her terminally ill husband at AdventHealth Hospital in Daytona Beach, WESH reports.
Ellen Gilland was initially charged with premeditated murder for allegedly shooting and killing her husband, Jerry. The indictment charges her with a count of assisting self-murder/manslaughter. She is also charged with three counts of aggravated assault. A judge has since denied bond for the 76-year-old.
Police said Gilland shot and killed her husband in his hospital bed as part of a murder-suicide pact they made three weeks before the shooting. Her husband allegedly decided that if his illness worsened, “he wanted her to end this,” Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said at a news conference.
“Apparently the goal was for him to do it, but he didn’t have the strength so she had to carry it out,” Young said.
Young said Gilland planned to turn the gun on herself “but she decided she couldn’t go through with it.”
Two nurses heard the gunshot, went to their room and saw Gilland beside her husband. Police said she pointed the gun at them and told them to leave the room.
When officers arrived, Gilland allegedly pointed the gun at them as well. After about four hours, SWAT team members decided to use a “flash bang device to distract Ellen” and then tried to use a stun gun on her, but it failed to subdue the 76-year-old, and she fired a shot into the ceiling.
Police said it was “a logistical nightmare” to evacuate patients from nearby rooms since most of them were on ventilators.
“She didn’t just kill her husband and walk out of the room. She made a choice to stay there and point it at people. That was dangerous,” prosecutor Heatha Trigones said.
“The law in the state of Florida does not allow for a mercy killing. What we’ve described here today is somebody purchasing a gun or ammunition, taking it into a hospital room with a plan, the plan being to take the life of another person and take her own ultimately,” Judge Karen Foxman said.
Gilland has garnered sympathy from people who feel terminally ill patients should be able to control when they end their lives.
After the killing, Democratic State Sen. Lauren Book filed the “Death with Dignity Act,” which would allow Florida residents with terminal illnesses end their lives in a humane and dignified manner.