Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Petaluma man suspected of assisting in his wife’s suicide Wednesday morning at the Inn at the Tides in Bodega Bay.
Sheriff’s officials said David Clement, 64, and Debra Bales, 52, were staying at the hotel off Highway 1 for the past three days, with the intent of Bales ending her life. Officials said that during that time, Clement tried to smother his wife with a pillow three times before the couple purchased a rope.
Clement called 911 at about 7:30 a.m. to report that his wife had hung herself. State park rangers and sheriff’s deputies found Bales dead, hanging from a tree near their hotel room, officials said.
Clement is suspected of fastening the rope to the tree and tying knots in the rope, officials said.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said Bales did not have a terminal illness. But she was in chronic pain and had recently come off opioid medication. It was not clear whether her pain was caused by withdrawal from her pain medication.
Crum said it is illegal to assist in another’s suicide attempt, though California law does allow for medically assisted suicide. In October 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Option Act, which allows terminally ill people to request life-ending medication.
The law went into effect in June last year.
“California has an assisted suicide law, but that involves limiting liability for a physician,” Crum said. “There’s a whole protocol that’s involved in assisted suicides.”
Clement was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder for the instances he tried to tried smother Bales and for aiding in her suicide, both felonies.
Family members of the couple could not immediately be reached for comment.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707)-521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @renofish.
North Bay Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline: 855-587-6373
NAMI Sonoma County warmline: 707-527-6655
Sonoma County Psychiatric Emergency Services: 707-576-8181
For information on Sonoma County support groups, call 707-527-6655 or go to namisonomacounty.org