74-year-old NC man guilty of killing wife to prevent life as 'caged animal' in nursing home

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to killing his wife of 53 years, after he concluded she'd live "like a caged animal" if put in an assisted living center, reported the Daily Advance.

Samuel Frank Mansfield, 74, of Elizabeth City, was originally indicted for second-degree murder in connection with the 2016 shooting, but entered a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Phyllis Mansfield, 73, reported TV station WAVY.

Sentencing of Mansfield has been delayed for eight months as he undergoes "treatment for a health condition," WAVY reported.

The shooting occurred Dec. 14, 2016, at a time when Mansfield was doing research to find an assisted living home for his wife, according to the Virginian-Pilot. She was suffering from dementia he told police, reported the Daily Advance.

Mansfield told investigators he concluded his wife would be "living like a caged animal" in an assisted living home, reported TV station WTKR, citing court documents. At that point, he told investigators he "knew what he had to do," according to the station.

He planned the killing in advance, getting the gun from a tool box on the morning of Dec. 14 and calling his wife to the garage of their Elizabeth City home, reported the Daily Advance.

Mansfield reportedly hid the .22-caliber pistol as she walked in wearing a leopard-print robe and slippers, then he raised it and fired twice, reported the Virginian-Pilot.

He told police he waited until "her last breath" before calling authorities, reported WTKR.

Police arrived to find him standing in the home's driveway at 6:30 a.m. with hands raised, and his wife's body in the garage, according to the Virginian-Pilot.