CROWN POINT | Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez Friday sentenced retired physician Charles Davidson, of Dyer, to two years in prison for fatally shooting his bedridden 95-year-old mother in April 2012.
The 77-year old man, who has advanced abdominal cancer, will serve his sentence in a minimum-security facility, according to Vasquez’s order.
Frail and hunched over in a wheelchair, Davidson appeared in court Friday wearing a gray suit, blue tie and white shirt, and surrounded by family and friends. His attorney Darnail Lyles presented many reasons why Davidson should be given probation rather than prison time.
Davidson admitted to shooting his mother, Blanch Bradley, twice as she lay in her bed in a darkened room about 6 a.m. on April 1, 2012. A short time before, he had returned from a 10-day hospital stay during which tests revealed cancer of the small intestine.
Police found Bradley dead in the home the family shared in the 800 block of Killarney Drive. She had been shot twice, once in the leg and once in the chest, records show.
Davidson was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his face when police arrived. Officials said he apparently shot himself. He was taken to Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospital in Dyer and placed on suicide watch, and was later booked at the Lake County Jail.
Davidson initially was charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and assisting suicide, and pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in June after entering into a plea agreement with prosecutors.
A longtime obstetrician/gynecologist and member of the Methodist Hospitals board of directors, he admitted to being despondent and discussing his recent cancer diagnosis with his mother.
Bradley, 95, told her only child she wished to commit suicide and asked him to assist her, plea documents state.
A half dozen family members, friends and colleagues spoke on Davidson’s behalf prior to sentencing, telling Vasquez about the man, his medical practice, his work in the community and his devotion to family.
Davidson’s twin sons, Harryl, of Munster, and Darryl, of Milwaukee, described their father’s dedication to them, their mother and grandmother.
“My grandmother lived by herself for many years. Finally she was not able to live by herself. She’d been with my father and mother for over 10 years,” said Harryl Davidson, 50. “He was attentive — a very loyal, attentive and dutiful son.”
Darryl Davidson said his mother had called him to help take care of his father and grandmother after Charles returned home from the hospital and that he arrived the night before the shooting.
“He was a great role model,” Darryl Davidson said of his father, adding that Charles Davidson’s act of shooting his own mother “was out of an extreme bout of love, because she was responsible for making him the man he was.”
During his own statement to the court before sentencing, Charles Davidson said in a quiet voice, “I’m in pain all the time. I’m on pain medication.”
Davidson’s final words in court, however, resounded off the walls.
“I loved my mother,” he sobbed.
Lake County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kate O'Halloran asked Vasquez for a four-year prison sentence.
“Dr. Davidson did play a god,” she said.
The decision whether to sentence Davidson to prison or probation seemed to weigh heavily on Vasquez.
“I’ve never seen a case like this in my 20 years (in the judicial system),” Vasquez said.
During sentencing, the judge recognized the many years of dedication Charles Davidson gave to his profession, community and family.
After each recognition, however, Vasquez said, “But we don’t kill our mothers.”