Kenneth Lee Shadell will not face prosecution on charges that he helped his ailing wife of 43 years commit suicide by an overdose of drugs "because the only evidence available . . . is that Mrs. Shadell voluntarily took the pills herself," Dist. Atty. Edwin Miller said Wednesday in a letter to La Mesa police.
Shadell, 67, a retired geography professor, dialed the 911 emergency number Dec. 2 and told authorities, "I just helped my wife die," as Elizabeth Shadell, also 67, lay comatose and surrounded by empty bottles of the prescription drugs Valium and Atavan, in a back bedroom of the couple's Skyline Lane home.
When La Mesa police and paramedics arrived on the scene, they revived Mrs. Shadell's pulse and rushed her to Grossmont Hospital, where she died 10 days later without regaining consciousness. Shadell, who had cared for his bed-ridden wife since his retirement from Grossmont College in 1982, was arrested by La Mesa police on suspicion of attempted murder and jailed for three days. He was released on his own recognizance while the district attorney's office decided whether to file charges.
Mrs. Shadell had been partly paralyzed and unable to speak since suffering a stroke in March, and had been ill for several years with a severe asthmatic condition, which required frequent hospitalization.