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Lawyer: Man tried to kill ailing wife with hammer to end her suffering

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – The lawyer for an 88-year-old man charged with attempting to kill his ailing wife in a western New York nursing home says his client wanted to end his spouse’s suffering.

Police in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga say Martin Turkiewicz walked into his wife’s room at the nursing home last Saturday and hit Rita Turkiewicz in the head with a hammer.

“I just wanted to end it for her,” Martin Turkiewicz told police of his 86-year-old wife, Rita, the Buffalo News reports.

He was charged with attempted murder. His wife of 60 years suffered a fractured skull and is listed in fair condition at a Buffalo hospital.

The couple’s daughter says her mother suffers from dementia. Turkiewicz’s attorney, Joseph Terranova, said in court Wednesday that his client was trying to put his wife out her misery.

The couple’s daughter took the stand in defense of her father, describing him as man who is always willing to help anyone.

According to WKBW, the daughter said her mother had several rehab stays for infections and falls in the past, “but it was this one that my mom’s dementia was taking hold.”

“She would not eat, participate in physical therapy and gain the strength to come home,” she said of her mother.

“He was her caregiver 24-7 at home, along with cooking and cleaning,” she said. “It was his hope to keep her at home, where she was most comfortable. Mom always came first, even before his own medical issues.”

After attacking his wife, Martin reportedly admitted to people at the nursing home and investigators that he had attacked his wife.

“I hope I didn’t make it worse for her,” Martin Turkiewicz told investigators, according to Rodney O. Personius, the defense attorney.

Turkiewicz has pleaded not guilty. He’s free on bail and was ordered to stay away from his wife.