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Brother Received Probation In Hospital Standoff

May 6, 1986

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ A teen-ager has been sentenced to five years’ probation for holding hospital workers at gunpoint while he unhooked his comatose brother’s life- support system.

Robert Dean Whipple was sentenced Monday by Superior Court Judge David Grounds, who said he was convinced the 19-year-old had not intended to harm anyone.

However, Grounds said, ″the people on the other end of the shotgun didn’t know that,″ and added, ″This is not the way for the situation to be handled.″

Under an agreement, Whipple pleaded no contest to one count of aggravated assault. Two other assault charges and an attempted-murder charge were dismissed.

Whipple’s 28-year-old brother, John, had been hospitalized Jan. 16 as a result of a drug overdose. Three days later, Robert Whipple walked into the intensive care ward at John C. Lincoln Hospital & Health Center in Phoenix with an unloaded shotgun.

He kept a doctor and two nurses at bay while he unplugged the life-support machines. Two hours later, as his brother continued to breathe, Whipple surrendered to police.

A family spokesman said at the time they had a pact that if any member were being kept alive by machines with no hope of recovery, ″one of us would pull the plug.″

Four days after the hospital standoff, doctors turned off the life-support system at the family’s request and John Whipple died.

Grounds also ordered that Robert Whipple pay $30 a month toward the cost of supervising his probation and that he reimburse the county $575. Whipple also was ordered to pay the City of Phoenix $2,589 in restitution for police costs.

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