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Mercy Or Murder?

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LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) - A Laurel County man shoots his wife in the face and surprisingly to some, calls 911 himself.

Ernest Chumbley's wife was suffering terribly from cancer, and he said she wanted to die.

To avoid murder conviction and possible life sentence, Chumbley plead guilty to manslaughter.

Now, behind prison walls, he's locked away for 15 years for what he calls "love."

When asked if he did the right thing, he said yes. He takes full responsibility.

Responsibility for ending his wife's pain, which is what he said she asked him to do.

However, police have a different story. They said he was weary or angry of his wife's medical problems, and shot her three times on August 28th.

"I don't think it's a crime really," he said.

Ginny Mae, his wife, had battled cancer since 2006.

"It come back and it come back, as they say, on a vengeance. Brain, lung and bone," Chumbley said.

He remembers the night he killed his wife.

"Talking and watching Netflix, and we got to talking about her pain. She asked me to do something," he said. "That's what I did."

The Chumbleys' story spread to other states, even a few other countries. To some proponents of the "right to die" -- when a terminal patient chooses when to stop living -- Chris is a victim himself.

"As far as doing something that my wife asked me to do," he said. "Through good and bad, sickness or health, and that's the way I look at it now. I held my vow."

Later, Chumbley's case was compared to William Dresser's in 2014. Dresser shot his wife in the chest after a fall left her a quadriplegic. The prosecutor decided not to try him for murder and dismissed all charges.  Dresser and other witnesses said his wife had asked several people to help her die.  

But other than Chris, no one ever came forward saying Ginny Mae wanted to die, or asked anyone to end her pain. 

Chris said he did the right thing, and he'll see her again when his own time comes.

"She'll come to me with open arms."

During the court case, Ginny's family didn't believe Chris and wanted him to feel the full consequences under the law.

The right to die, or mercy killing, is one of the most hotly debated issues in our country.

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