It could have been the perfect crime. A wealthy heart surgeon from Long Island injected his 48-year-old invalid wife, the mother of their six children, with a lethal dose of a painkiller. The death certificate recorded the cause as a stroke.
But the police were suspicious from the start because the surgeon had signed the certificate himself and immediately shipped the body out of state for burial. Five weeks later, he was arrested at Kennedy International Airport trying to leave the country with more than $450,000 of his wife’s cash, negotiable bonds and jewelry.
In 1977, he was convicted of second-degree murder after one of a turbulent decade’s most celebrated trials. He was sentenced to 25 years to life. He never testified, but was imprisoned still protesting his innocence.
Fast forward 30 years. Today, the surgeon, Charles E. Friedgood, is the oldest inmate in a New York State prison. Suffering from a catalog of physical ailments and an emotion resembling remorse, he is seeking parole again next week. He is ready to admit that he did “it,” depending on how you define “it.”
“You look back, you know, it’s you can’t believe how sometimes things happen that you did that it was completely unnecessary,” Dr. Friedgood said in a recent interview from prison. “If you don’t want to be with a woman anymore, you divorce. You know, you don’t have to resort to murder. So 32 years later, I begin to realize how stupid you can do things.”
On Wednesday, Dr. Friedgood will mark his 89th birthday in Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a Gothic red-brick medium-security prison modeled after a monastery, in the foothills of the Catskills.
Although he has terminal cancer and has undergone numerous operations, including a colostomy, at state expense, he has been rejected for parole four times since serving his minimum sentence. Critics say the rejections were a result of a blanket no-release policy by the Pataki administration for inmates convicted of violent felonies.Read the article at the NY Times