'Mercy killing' suspect, George Sanders, details last conversation with wife before shooting

PHOENIX - An 85-year-old man suspected in the "mercy killing" of his wife will face a first-degree murder charge, according to the Maricopa County Attorney.

George Sanders was arrested on Nov. 9 when Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies found his wife, Virginia Sanders, 81, with a gunshot wound to the head inside their Sun City home.

She survived for another two days in critical condition.

The probable cause statement released on Friday reveals the last conversation the couple would ever have.

George told detectives that his own health was declining and he had a pacemaker implanted days earlier.

The document states Virginia and her caregiver went to the doctor that day because Virginia found unusual spots on her foot.

"During the appointment, they found out that Virginia appeared to have gangrene on her foot," according to the document.

Gangrene refers to the death of body tissue which, if left untreated, can be fatal.

The court record reads:

The caregiver contacted George and informed him that the doctor wanted Virginia to go immediately to Boswell hospital for treatment. George said he told the caregiver to bring Virginia home.

Deputies said George explained that Virginia, "didn't want any part of that."

He and Virginia talked about the fact that she did not want to be admitted into the hospital and they looked at this as a death sentence for her… George said the way he and Virginia saw it, they wanted her to go to the hospital until they finished cutting what they needed, then she would be taken to a nursing home until she died.

The discussion of killing Virginia began and George said he didn't think he could do it.

When the caregiver called asking why Virginia had not yet been to the hospital, Virginia supposedly said they had to "do it now."

George said he again told Virginia he didn't think he could do that to her… Virginia told him, ‘yes, you can… I don't want to go up there to get cut up.' At this point, George said he retrieved his gun and Virginia asked him if it was going to hurt. George said he told Virginia that she would not feel anything.

Virginia's last words as the gun was pressed against her head were reportedly a plea to her husband: "Do it, do it, do it."

Court records state George used a .22 caliber revolver for the "premeditated murder," and then called Virginia's part-time caregiver to confess.

The caregiver and George separately called 911.

Deputies found George on the front porch and Virginia seated in her wheelchair, still breathing.

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