Florida woman appeals spouse's custody case


ANNAPOLIS -- The wife of a near-comatose Army veteran is taking her request to regain custody of her husband to the Maryland Court of Appeals.

In November Deanna V. Mack lost a custody fight for her husband, Ronald W. Mack, 30, in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Mrs. Mack, 29, intended to move Mr. Mack to Florida, where she would petition to have his feeding tubes removed under that state's right-to-die law.

Judge John F. Fader transferred guardianship of her husband from court-appointed attorney Edward Gillis to Mr. Mack's father, Ronald E. Mack.

Maryland's highest court will hear arguments today from Mrs. Mack's attorney, C. Christopher Brown and the elder Mack's attorney, Gary Strausberg.

The court also invited the attorney general's office to present its view at the hearing. Jack Schwartz will argue for the state.

If the lower court's decision is reversed, it would set a precedent for other right-to-die cases, Mr. Brown said. A decision is not expected before the end of the year.

The younger Mack, of Essex, has been a patient at the Fort Howard Veterans Administration Medical Center for most of the past nine years after a car crash in California in 1983 left him brain-damaged.

Mrs. Mack moved to Florida with their two children a year later.

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