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Doctor Admits to Killing Wife in Failed Suicide Pact

BY ANN GIVENS | ann.givens@newsday.com

November 25, 2008

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A Flower Hill radiologist faces probation after admitting Tuesday to a failed suicide pact with his terminally ill wife in which she died and he survived, authorities said.

Dr. Rajasekar Sham, 68, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the Nov. 11 stabbing death of his wife, Lucila Sham, 69, according the Nassau district attorney's office.

Sham told investigators that his wife had terminal cancer and that "neither of the two ever wished to live alone or apart from the other," according to a statement from the Nassau district attorney's office.

The doctor said his wife initially tried to take her own life but was unable to do so, so he used a knife on her, then stabbed himself with another knife, authorities said.

She sustained fatal wounds to her arm. He sustained a potentially fatal cut to his neck and wounds to his wrists and abdomen. They were both found in a bathroom in their home, prosecutors said.

Rajasekar Sham was taken to a hospital and stabilized and later spoke to authorities about the pact.

An autopsy confirmed Lucila Sham had been suffering from multiple-source, terminal cancer, for which she had stopped getting medical treatment.

Investigators later found that the couple had tied up all loose ends, updating their wills, prepaying their 2008 taxes and even paying the housekeepers for their Florida home ahead of time, including tips.

"This is an incredibly tragic situation," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. "Jail or a prolonged legal process would serve no meaningful purpose in this case."

The doctor's assistance in his wife's death violated the manslaughter statute, which prohibits assisted suicide, Rice's office said.

Sham is expected to get a five-year probation term in exchange for his guilty plea, which includes getting psychological counseling. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 6.