Paul Weinstein said nothing this morning as a Westchester County judge sentenced him to eight years in state prison for what he told police was a mercy killing of his elderly wife in their New Rochelle home last year.
Weinstein, 78, had agreed to the sentence when he pleaded guilty in June to first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Helen Weinstein on Sept. 23.
The prison term for Weinstein, who has been in jail for more than 10 months, could end up a life sentence for the frail ex-pharmacist.
In court papers, Weinstein told police that his wife, also in her 70s, was “starting to lose it” and that the shooting was a mercy killing. Later, he told authorities that an argument with his wife “set him off.”
He used a World War II-era Walther handgun to shoot his wife as she lay in bed in their 12th-floor apartment at a senior citizen housing complex at 35 Maple Ave. He called 911 to report what had happened and, after a brief standoff with police, surrendered.
He tried suffocating her with a pillow and, when that failed, took the 9 mm handgun from the bedroom closet, loaded it and hid it under a kitchen towel so his wife wouldn’t be alarmed.
The gun fired on the second try.
Weinstein told detectives he apologized to his slain wife, called police and then got into his bathtub and tried shooting himself in the head several times, but the gun would not fire.
Prosecutor Christine O’Connor said the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office has said Weinstein’s age and poor health were considered when reducing the second-degree murder charge to first-degree manslaughter. O’Connor also said the couple’s daughter had asked her office for leniency.
Weinstein, a licensed pharmacist for 54 years and a former supervisor at R&R Pharmacy in Mamaroneck, was represented by Allan Focarile of the Westchester Legal Aid Society.