“She told me to do it.”
Martin Turkiewicz, 88, stood before a judge Thursday afternoon and affirmed that his wife, Rita, 86, asked him to help end her suffering.
He was sentenced to six months in jail plus five years’ probation after hitting his wife in the head with a hammer at the Garden Gate Rehab Center in Cheektowaga last September.
Turkiewicz pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in November, a lesser charge than the assault and attempted murder charge he faced following the incident.
On Thursday, Turkiewicz said he believed a hammer would be the fastest and easiest way to kill his wife, who suffers from dementia, without making her suffer.
In court, his children asked the judge to be lenient and to drop an order of protection so he could reunite with his wife.
“Our father is a man who made a terrible mistake,” said daughter Diane Cline. “We were never afraid for my mom’s well-being.”
She added that Rita asks for her husband and has nightmares that he has died.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says he believes the half a year sentence is fair, adding he can't fathom Turkiewicz dying in jail.
"If he got a period of incarceration for say a couple of years and he died without being able to hold his wife's hands before she dies, how is that right?" said Flynn.
Also part of the sentencing: the order of protection will remain in place until Feb. of 2026.
But, once out of jail, Turkiewicz will be able to visit his wife at the nursing home, if the home allows, with supervision.
Garden Gate Rehab Center did not immediately return a request for comment on if they'll allow Turkiewicz to visit.