Retired physician sentenced to two years’ prison for death of mother
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent August 16, 2013 12:58PM
Charles Davidson. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 18, 2013 6:08AM
A retired physician was sentenced to two years in prison for reckless homicide the April 2012 shooting death of his 95-year-old, infirm mother.
Charles Odell Davidson, 77, cried as he told Lake Superior Court Judge Salvador Vasquez that he really did love his mother, Blanch Bradley.
Davidson, a retired obstetrician and gynecologist, admitted in court in June that he was despondent over his own physical health issues and had discussed them with his mother. Bradley was unable to care for herself and for a decade had relied on Davidson and his wife to care for her in their Dyer home.
Bradley told Davidson she wanted to commit suicide and asked him to help her, plea documents state. On April 1, 2012, Davidson shot Bradley as she lay in her bed in her darkened bedroom. She was wounded in the leg and chest. Davidson then tried to kill himself with a gunshot wound to the face.
Davidson had been treated for prostate cancer and later was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. He underwent surgery but is unable to continue with chemotherapy treatments and lives in constant pain.
Among the witnesses testifying on behalf of Davidson were his twin sons, Harryl and Darryl, who described their father as loyal and attentive to their grandmother’s needs, and a wonderful father and role model.
Charles Brooks Jr., a semi-retired attorney, said he served on the Methodist Hospitals board of directors with Davidson, a man he described as respected in the community and a competent physician.
Retired hospital administrator Francis Taylor said Davidson and his wife would leave social events early so he could attend to his mother’s needs. Retired physician Clarence Boone, who was partnered with Davidson in a medical practice from 1968 to 1999, also described a strong devotion Davidson had for his mother.
Defense attorney Darnail Lyles said his client’s physical limitations interfered with caring for his mother. Davidson is an only child. Lyles listed numerous mitigating factors, including Davidson’s long-time service to the community, his acceptance of responsibility for the crime, his lack of any criminal convictions and his exemplary character.
“Aside from being illegal, there’s no malice in what he did,” Lyles argued.
Kathleen O’Halloran, a trial supervisor for the Lake County prosecutor’s office, said that Davidson’s actions are contrary to the oath he took as a physician and that he “played God” in taking his mother’s life. There is no clear way to know Bradley’s mental state, she said.
“Under the law, all lives, regardless of the disability, regardless of the infirmity, are valued the same,” she said.
Vasquez said the case was unique and difficult. He said Davidson “took it upon himself to kill her (Bradley). There is little doubt in my mind this is a murder,” despite Davidson’s plea to the lesser crime of reckless homicide.
Though Davidson was distraught that his cancer had recurred, and despite the contributions he made to society through his medical practice, “we don’t kill people, we don’t kill our elderly, inform, bedridden mothers,” Vasquez said.
Reckless homicide is punishable by a maximum eight-year sentence. A murder charge punishable by 45 to 65 years was dismissed, along with charges of involuntary manslaughter and assisting suicide.