South San Francisco Man Pleads Not Guilty to Trying to Kill His Mother

REDWOOD CITY (AP) — A South San Francisco man has pleaded not guilty to trying to kill his ailing 86-year-old mother, which he says he did at her request.

Thomas Beck entered the pleas Friday in San Mateo County Superior Court, where he is charged with attempted murder and elder abuse.

Beck’s mother died on May 16, 2017, in the South San Francisco home she shared with Beck. Beck told police he tried to suffocate his mother on the die she died, but stopped after smothering her for about 10 minutes and left her bedroom. He said he found her dead when he returned 15 minutes later.

Prosecutors say Beck wasn’t charged with murder because the coroner couldn’t determine the cause of death.

She was suffering from Parkinson’s and recently broken her hip and arm when she asked her son to kill her, Beck’s attorney Chuck Smith said in an interview Monday.

Smith said Beck, 58, was a retired investment banker who spent the last 18 years as his mother’s primary caregiver.

“He was devoted to her,” Smith said.

The San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said investigators have concluded that Beck’s mother told others she wanted to die. Nonetheless, Wagstaffe said that’s not a legal defense

Until earlier this year, it was legal for terminally ill patients to request life-ending medications for their doctors. A judge put the law on hold in May while considering lawsuit challenging it is pending.

Beck is scheduled for trial in December and remains free on $1 million bail.