A 61-year-old Prescott, Wis., man charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the drug overdose death of his wife in July has pleaded not guilty.

Robert J. Whaley admitted to police that he gave his wife, Emilie, methadone at their home in Prescott about 4 a.m. on July 2, according to the criminal complaint. Whaley entered his plea during a hearing Tuesday before Pierce County Circuit Judge Joseph Boles in Ellsworth, Wis.

According to the complaint, Whaley called police to his home after his wife stopped breathing. Police found her lying on a couch and found Whaley agitated, asking repeatedly, “Is she going to be all right?”

He told the first officer to arrive that he had obtained 100 milligrams of liquid methadone and that he had taken half and his wife had taken the other half, the complaint adds. The officer began CPR and was later joined by an ambulance crew, but after 40 minutes of effort she was pronounced dead.

Investigators located a bottle in the trash at the home that had apparently contained the drug. Whaley told officers he called for help when his wife became unresponsive. While being questioned, he blurted out: “I killed her. I split it with her,” adding that she was “pretty much out as soon as we took that crap.”

According to the complaint, at one point he turned to an officer, crying, and said, “I am so stupid, I killed her.”

Whaley remains free on a $25,000 signature bond. His next court hearing is Oct. 28.

Jim Anderson