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Man Accused of Killing Wife in Nursing Home Attends Her Funeral

March 4, 1988

EVANSVILLE, Minn. (AP) _ A 77-year-old man who said he shot and killed his ailing wife at a nursing home to spare her more pain was escorted by jailers Thursday to her funeral, where he tearfully told relatives, ″You know I really loved her, don’t you?″

A young granddaughter told Oscar Carlson, ″It’s OK, Grandpa, it’s OK.″

About 120 people attended the funeral of 71-year-old Agnes Carlson at Faith Lutheran Church in this tiny farming community in western Minnesota.

Mrs. Carlson, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was shot four times at the Crestview Manor nursing home in Evansville on Monday, and her husband was charged with murder.

Carlson was allowed to leave jail to attend the funeral, but was accompanied by jailers and by Douglas County Sheriff Terry Eilers. He was not handcuffed.

Just before the service, Carlson was allowed a moment alone at the open casket. He held his wife’s hand for a time and then relatives went up to embrace him.

After the service, Carlson went to each family member telling them he loved his wife.

″Of course,″ his daughter, Marcene Cole, said through her tears as they embraced.

Asked if Carlson’s family had forgiven him, nephew Gordon Johnson said, ″Right after it happened.″

″Look at what Oscar was going through,″ Johnson said. ″You live with someone for 40 some years ... they were always together ... and then it all falls apart. I think there’s a lot of sympathy for Oscar.″

Pastor George Larson did not mention the circumstances of Mrs. Carlson’s death in his funeral address. Instead, he urged the family to take comfort in the Biblical promise of life after death.

Eilers said Wednesday that attending the funeral was one of Carlson’s uppermost concerns when he went to jail Monday.

″I think there was a true bond, a true love between the two of them. I don’t see why he shouldn’t attend the funeral,″ said Eilers.

The prosecutor’s office and District Judge Paul Ballard agreed to the arrangement. Eilers sat beside Carlson during the service.

Defense attorney Michael Dolan said Wednesday he would request that Carlson’s $100,000 bail be reduced at a hearing next week.

″We have a 77-year-old man who has never been charged for a crime in his life ...,″ Dolan said. ″He is not going to leave the area because he has lived in the area for some 45 years.″

Dolan isn’t disputing that Carlson shot his wife, but there’s been no decision yet on how Carlson should plea. Dolan said the defense will fight to keep Carlson from having to serve any time in prison.

″It’s fair to say he’s no danger to the community, but the question here is about mercy killing,″ Dolan said. ″If you say that’s right, you get into ethical questions real fast.″

Mercy killing or not, Douglas County Attorney Ann Carrott said she chose the charges of first- and second-dgree murder to match the crime. ″It’s understandable only in that he clearly had a reason for his conduct,″ she said. ″But we have to proceed with this as a murder.″

Eilers has said that Mrs. Carlson was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system chracterized especially by premature mental deterioration.

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