Terri’s Wish

The following is a time line of Terri Schiavo’s alleged verbal wish which was used to decide her fate. Pinellas-Pasco’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge, George W. Greer’s decision to starve and dehydrate Terri to death was based on hearsay evidence provided by Terri’s legal guardian and estranged husband, Michael Schiavo, his brother and his sister-in-law, all of which surfaced close to ten years subsequent to Terri’s collapse. The court ignored contrary testimony of Terri’s biological family and lifelong friends. According to Michael Schiavo and his family, Terri would have had to make these alleged wishes when she was in her early twenties.

On February 25, 1990, at the age of 26, Terri Schiavo collapsed, for still unknown reasons, while home alone with Michael Schiavo. Terri had no written directive. Schiavo made no mention that Terri had any type of verbal living will.

In November 1992, Michael Schiavo initiated a medical malpractice suit against Terri’s physicians, a general practitioner and a gynecologist, claiming that she may have suffered from an eating disorder which they failed to detect. At trial, the Chief of Rehabilitation from Bayfront Medical Center and a second rehabilitation specialist both testified that Terri could expect a normal life span and would require extensive care throughout her life. Michael Schiavo recited his wedding vows to the jury and asked for upwards of 20 million dollars so that he could “bring Terri home” and provide her with the proper lifelong rehabilitation and therapy she was going to need because of her disability. Based on that and other evidence, the jury awarded Michael Schiavo $600,000 for loss of spousal consortium and over $1.5 million to Terri. Of this, $780,000 was placed in trust to provide for Terri’s future healthcare and therapeutic needs.

On February 14, 1993, Michael Schiavo and Terri’s parents had a disagreement over the course of her care and the use of her trust to provide therapy. Terri’s parents urged Michael Schiavo to begin rehabilitation and therapy for Terri once again. He declined. Schiavo discontinued any contact with Terri’s family and took steps to deny their access to her.

In the spring of that year, subsequent to the split between Michael Schiavo and Terri’s family, Schiavo places placed a DNR order in Terri’s medical records, and instructed nursing home not to reveal any medical information regarding Terri to her family.

That summer, Michael Schiavo instructed Terri’s physician not to treat her UT infection which would ultimately lead to her death by sepsis. Fortunately, the Nursing home intervened, informing Schiavo that Florida Statutes do not permit the withholding of such medical treatment.

In November 1993, Michael Schiavo is was deposed and testified that he wanted the antibiotics withheld in the hopes that Terri would die stating that, “It’s what I think Terri would want”, and “In my own feelings, if Terri were to wake up and see herself the way she is now, she wouldn’t even want to live like that.” Schiavo never mentioned that it was “Terri’s” wish to die, only his wish.

In 1994, Michael Schiavo took up residence and became engaged to Jodi Centzone. He refused to dissolve his marriage to Terri, and the couple eventually had three children.

In 1995, Michael Schiavo sought out the services of attorney George Felos, a right-to-die litigator. Attorney Felos would later petition the court for his fees to be paid for by Terri’s trust.

In July of 1997, Michael mother, Clare Schiavo, passed away. While making no mention of Terri, Schiavo publicly announced – in mother’s obituary – his intentions to marry Jodi Centonze, while still being married to Terri.

Note: During the 2000 trial to determine Terri’s fate, Michael Schiavo testified that it was only AFTER his mother’s death that he decided to remove Terri’s feeding tube. This contradicted the fact that Schiavo and his attorney had already begun the procedures to remove Terri’s feeding tube several months prior to Schiavo’s mother passing away.

In May of 1998, Felos filed Petition to Withdraw Life Support, based on Michael Schiavo’s claim that Terri had a verbal living will. The court appointed a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to investigate the merits of this petition. During investigation, Guardian ad Litem asked Schiavo if he knew of anyone else having knowledge of Terri’s alleged wish. Schiavo tells GAL … “No”.

The final report of the Guardian ad Litem to the court was that the petition should be denied based on conflicts of interest by Michael Schiavo. Report cited the number of years it took for Schiavo to recall Terri’s alleged wish, and the money Schiavo would stand to inherit, which was upwards of $800,000.00. Attorney Felos objected on claims of bias and the court dismissed the Guardian ad Litem without ever appointing a successor.

In the spring of 1999, Florida Law was changed to recognize feeding tubes as “medical treatment” (artificial life support). Michael Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos was directly involved in effort to change law.

That same year, during Michael Schaivo’s deposition in preparation for upcoming trial, attorney Felos asks asked Schiavo if there was anyone who would corroborate his claim regarding Terri’s “wishes”. Despite previously saying he knew of no one, Schiavo then identified his brother, Scott Schiavo and sister-in-law, Joan Schiavo.

In January of 2000, the Petition to Withdraw Life Support was heard by Judge George W. Greer in Pinellas-Pasco’s Sixth Judicial Circuit. As support for his petition, Michael Schiavo testified that Terri told him in the mid-1980s that she would not want life support after the couple had watched a movie depicting a patient on a ventilator. Schiavo’s brother and sister-in-law also testified that Terri had made statements to them regarding mechanical life support. Judge Greer dismissed testimony of Terri’s parents, siblings, Terri’s life-long girlfriend and closest friend in Florida, all testifying that Terri never made any statements regarding situations if she were to become disabled. Greer found Schiavo and his family’s testimony to be clear and convincing evidence and ordered that Terri’s feeding tube be removed.

In April of 2001, Cindy Brashers (Shook) – a previous girlfriend of Schiavo’s -told Terri’s father, and brother in a phone conversation that Michael Schiavo was lying about Terri’s wishes and that he told Shook back in 1991 when they were dating that, “He had no idea what Terri’s wishes were.”

That same year, Trudy Capone (Trudy Capone and Schiavo dated just prior to his relationship with Jodi Centonze) submitted an affidavit repeating Shook’s claim that Michael Schiavo was lying and did not know Terri’s wishes.

March 31, 2005, Terri died of marked dehydration after almost 14 days of being denied food and water based on Judge Greer’s decision that it was Terri’s wish to die.

Analysis of Terri Schiavo’s Wish

Notre Dame Professor O. Carter Snead examines Judge Greer’s ruling that decided Terri’s fate.

Terri Schiavo’s Story