Legal analyst: Woman accused of killing terminally ill husband could get ‘sympathy’ from jury

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Channel 9 is asking a legal analyst what factors may have weighed in on a judge’s decision to deny bond for an elderly woman accused of killing her terminally ill husband.


Police said last month, 76-year-old Ellen Gilland’s husband asked her to kill him. She’s accused of shooting and killing her husband inside of a Daytona Beach hospital. Police said the two had a pact to end his life if his health didn’t improve.

Inside the Daytona Beach courtroom Friday, emotions ran high as the family tried to sway the judge to let her out on bond.

Judge Karen Foxman said Gilland was “a danger to the community” since she purchased the ammunition and admitted to shooting her husband.

READ: Woman, 76, accused of killing her terminally ill husband at Daytona Beach hospital denied bond

Our legal analyst said that, despite pleas from family, there weren’t many options on the table, and that the judge had to deny Gilland bond and the decision had nothing to do with emotion.

“There is no exception for assisted suicide in the state of Florida,” legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said. “So when she shot her husband to death she committed the crime, allegedly, of first-degree murder.”

He said the case may go to a jury trial and a jury “may have sympathy for her, but as far as the state is concerned they can’t take sympathy into consideration when deciding to charge her with first-degree murder.”

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Sheaffer said there’s a precedent in a case like this, and it would send a message to anyone who might have a loved one in a similar position that an exception could be made, even though the law doesn’t allow it.

But there’s something that could make a difference down the line, Sheaffer said.

“Whether it’s a plea negotiation or going to trial is the testimony of her loved ones about her husband and the love for her husband and the fact that she wanted to alleviate his suffering and the fact that the husband even asked her to do this,” Sheaffer said. “At this stage, those factors don’t come into play, they come into play later in this case.”

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.