Man sentenced to 10 years in mercy killing
ROSEBURG — A 29-year-old Southern Oregon man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing his roommate in what he said was a mercy killing.
Charles Henry Teal of Myrtle Creek was sentenced Monday in Douglas County Circuit Court in Roseburg for manslaughter in the October 2011 slaying of 39-year-old Jeffrey Scott Bension, the Roseburg News-Review reported.
Teal told authorities that he and Bension drove to a logging road outside Myrtle Creek at about 10 p.m., and Bension said he was dying of cancer. Bension begged him to end the pain, Teal said.
Teal said he agreed to the request and shot Bension in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Afterward, Teal told his girlfriend to call 911 to report the shooting, but a deputy failed to find the body. It was later discovered by a hunter.
Although other people said Bension had told them he had cancer, an autopsy did not show the disease.
Teal took a plea deal, and a murder charge was dropped. He pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter and a weapons charge. The 2 1/2 years he has spent in jail awaiting trial will count against the 10 years of his sentence.
Bension's family was not placated.
“No matter what I say to you, our lives are still forever changed,” Bension's mother, Debi Peters, wrote in a letter read in court by prosecutor Steve Hoddle. “This senseless act took away my right to say a final goodbye to my son. ... It's crystal clear you knew what you did was despicable.”
Teal said he was deeply sorry, and accepted his punishment.
Defense attorney Laura Fine Moro said Teal believed Bension was dying, and “acted wholly out of mercy.”
“Everyone we spoke to preparing for the case said (Teal) would give the shirt off his back and was the kind of guy you'd want as your neighbor. He found himself in a horrible situation, which triggered his post-traumatic stress, and he made a decision he will regret for the rest of his life,” Moro said.
Judge Bill Marshall said he had a hard time understanding how Teal could do such a thing.
“I don't understand how anybody can get from valuing human life, loving someone, getting medical attention to pulling the trigger and shooting someone,” he said.
Information from: The News-Review, http://www.nrtoday.com