Lawrence Loeffler, 86, may have been delusional when he shot his wife behind their home in La Pine, Oregon, but the resulting death was decidedly real.
Loeffler was reportedly upset that his wife Betty screwed the lid on the ketchup bottle too tightly, making it difficult for him to open.
He was also angry that his stepdaughter failed to acknowledge his birthday, and aired a list of additional complaints to explain to jurors why he killed his wife.
Loeffler had recently returned from a week-and-a-half stint in a nursing home, recovering from gallbladder surgery. According to reports, he became confused and irrational at that time, obsessing on the death of his father and on mortality in general.
While Loeffler may have been mentally disturbed, he was certainly cognizant of his actions. The night of the murder, he reportedly removed the phone from the hook, fetched his gun and then lured his wife from her sleeping bed onto the deck at the back of their shared home.
After setting his “trap,” Loeffler shot his wife one time in the neck, and then once in the head in order to make certain that she was dead.
Despite these calculated actions, defense attorney Jacques DeKalb argued that Loeffler did not know what he was doing. Said DeKalb, "He had no idea what reality was at that time."
The defendant, who uses an oxygen concentrator to breathe, called 911 after the murder, telling the dispatcher that Betty was threatening him and that he shot her out of self-defense.
Loeffler cried and yelled throughout the conversation making it difficult to decipher. He also cried as he sat in the courtroom listening to the call.
According to Sheriff's Captain Tim Edwards, Loeffler did not seem intoxicated or show signs of dementia when police made the initial arrest. When they approached the man at his house, he could not even lift both arms in the air as instructed because he needed his cane to stand upright.