Man Sued for Gresham Wife’s Oregon Wrongful Death to Serve Life Sentence for Her Murder

A man who says he was acting compassionately when he shot his wife to death because she had an incurable disease has been convicted of murdering her. John Roberts killed his wife while she slept on February 2, 2008. He is also the defendant in an Oregon wrongful death complaint that was brought by her family.

According to Gresham police, Roberts says he shot Virginia because she asked to die. His 51-year-old wife had Lou Gehrig’s disease (myotrophic lateral) and he claims she no longer wanted to live.

Prosecutors, however, say that Virginia was never diagnosed with ALS, no proof exists that she wanted him to murder her, and that Roberts had spent their life savings. They disputed his claim that the shooting was an assisted suicide—state law considers this action manslaughter when a doctor isn’t involved.

According to medical records, Virginia was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and possessed a withering right hand.

The jury needed less than two hours to convict Roberts for Virginia’s murder. The following day, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jerome LaBarre sentenced him to life in prison with possible parole after 25 years.

Last year, Virginia’s family filed their $25.25 million Oregon wrongful death lawsuit against Roberts in Multnomah County Circuit Court. They accused the defendant of intentionally murdering her. In addition to wrongful death, their complaint is seeking damages for funeral costs, income loss, suffering, pain, and loss of parent-child relationships.

The defendants in the Multnomah County wrongful death case are Virginia’s children, Marsha Tatiana Cruz Quiroz and Kenneth Wilton Cruz Quiroz, and her parents Umberto Quiroz and Amanda Romero de Quiroz.

Man sentenced to life for 2008 murder of wife, Oregon Live, July 17, 2009
Husband guilty in compassion killing of wife, AP/Seattle Times, July 17, 2009
Family sues John Roberts for $25 million, The Outlook Online, February 29, 2008
Related Web Resources:
Bills and Laws, Oregon State Legislature
Wrongful Death, Justia