A jailed Houston man said he and his wife were going through financial difficulties when he helped her commit suicide, according to authorities.
Mark Kelly, 47, called the police Saturday morning after he found his wife Sonia Marie Dixon dead in their apartment. He was later arrested on a state felony charge of aiding a suicide.
Dixon, 49, wanted to end her life, so Kelly bought her a plastic bag, a helium tank and plastic tubes — together commonly known as a suicide bag — and set them up so that she could asphyxiate herself, Kelly told investigators, according to Harris County Sherrif's Office spokesman Dep. Thomas Gilliland.
Told by Dixon to leave the apartment, Kelly spent the night at a motel while Dixon killed herself.
"[Kelly] told us his wife had told him she wanted to kill herself, that she could not go on with the way things were," Gilliland said.
Dixon was found with a note and a 1996 book titled "Final Exit," by Derek Humphry, which contains advice for the terminally ill on how to end their lives, Gilliland said.
Dionne Press, Kelly's attorney, said the case was the first assisted suicide case Harris County has seen in recent memory.
"It was amazing to me," Gilliland said. "I'd never seen [an assisted-suicide] case that charges were actually taken on."
The case is likely to revolve around the question of to what degree Kelly's actions caused Dixon's death, Press said, adding that some crucial information about the sequence of events has not yet been established.
Given the "totality of the circumstances," Kelly merited the charge of aiding a suicide, said Donna Hawkins, a Harris County assistant district attorney.
Dixon and Kelly filed for divorce in September, but the case was dismissed two weeks ago after the couple decided not to pursue it. Sheriff's office investigators determined that Dixon and Kelly had recently lost their house.
Immigration authorities have placed a hold on Kelly, a United Kingdom national with no criminal history, and on Monday, State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis raised Kelly's bond from $2,000 to $20,000.
Kelly will be arraigned on July 30 and faces up to two years in prison if convicted.