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Four pivotal moments in the case

By Times Staff
Published March 31, 2005

The collapse: Feb. 25, 1990

The whole family crowded into the emergency room at Humana Northside Hospital. Friends from work were pouring in, too. What had happened to Terri?

Michael Schiavo said he had come home that night after working at Agostino's, a restaurant in Feather Sound that he managed. Terri woke up, he said, and gave him a kiss good night.

About 5:30 a.m., Michael heard a thud. He said he got out of bed. On the floor, he saw his wife, 26, face down.

"Terri. Terri. You okay?" he said.

He heard a gurgling sound.

He called 911 and then Terri's brother, Bobby, who also lived at the Thunder Bay Apartments on Fourth Street N.

Michael knew CPR, but he said later he panicked. Paramedics arrived at apartment 2210 and began working on her.

Terri's heart was not beating. Michael could see she wasn't responding.

He heard paramedics say, "she is a flat line."

The split: Feb. 14, 1993

The million-dollar verdict was supposed to help Terri's family heal, but it tore them apart.

The break happened at Terri's bedside in the Sabal Palms nursing home.

That day, Bob Schindler said, he asked about money Michael Schiavo promised to repay him.

According to Bob Schindler, Schiavo said, "Forget the money."

He said Schiavo threw some books and pushed a table. They nearly came to blows.

Schiavo agrees that Schindler asked how much money he would get. Schiavo said none. He said he had given the money to Terri, which he later acknowledged was a lie.

"How much money is she going to give me?" Schindler said, pointing to his daughter.

Schindler stormed outside, his fist clenched, Schiavo said. He warned he would get a lawyer.

Headline: The trial: Jan. 24, 2000

The trial to determine Terri Schiavo's last wishes lasted five days in a small, dark courtroom in Clearwater. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer presided. He heard from 18 witnesses, reviewed Schiavo's CAT scan and watched a videotape of her. He filled 11/2 legal pads with notes.

Doctors testified about Schiavo's condition. A Roman Catholic priest testified about the church's position on the right to die. Schiavo's parents, sister, brother and husband testified.

Scott Schiavo, Michael's brother, recalled what his sister-in-law said when the brothers' grandmother died after being kept alive on a machine: "If I ever go like that, just let me go. Don't leave me there. I don't want to be kept alive on a machine."

"This has been an extremely difficult case," Greer said at the end. "Probably the most difficult case I have presided over in my term on the bench."

Fifteen days later, he entered his order, signed at 11:50 a.m. Feb. 11, 2000: "Petitioner/Guardian is hereby authorized to proceed with the discontinuance of said artificial life support for Theresa Marie Schiavo."

Tube removed: March 18, 2005

Michael Schiavo could not watch, his family said. He was too heartbroken, too emotionally wrecked to see it. He waited outside her room at Hospice House Woodside as a doctor removed Terri's feeding tube. The doctor closed the wound about 1:45 p.m.

Then, Michael entered, waited at his wife's bedside and wept.

Terri's parents and a priest had visited her earlier in the day. They talked to Terri about her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress, which had subpoenaed her in an attempt to keep the feeding tube in.

They were speaking to her about life, but knew they had to prepare her for death. They asked Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski to perform the Catholic rites for the dying. He sprinkled her with holy water.

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