Former co-workers of EMT accused of killing wife shocked by allegations

Published: Oct. 2, 2009 at 9:57 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 18, 2010 at 8:39 PM EDT
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Michael Whitehead
Michael Whitehead
Angela Whitehead (source: Shanahan family photo)
Angela Whitehead (source: Shanahan family photo)

By Connie Leonard - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Former co-workers of an EMT charged with murdering his wife are speaking out. Michael Whitehead, 26, pleaded not guilty to murder and several other charges Friday morning.

Whitehead is accused of causing his wife's death when he tried to treat his wife's illness with stolen drugs.

According to two of his colleagues, Whitehead is by no means another Jack Kevorkian and had no intention of harming his 24-year-old wife, Ashley, who may have been suffering with Crohn's disease.

"I was very, very surprised," said Kimberly Giles, an EMT who worked with Whitehead at Yellow Ambulance.

Police say Whitehead was trying to play doctor when he stole hydrocodone and promethazine from his employer, Yellow Ambulance in Louisville.

LMPD investigators believe the EMT then injected Ashley with the drugs, which caused her death.

"I just remember her being in pain all the time, and he felt bad about not being able to help her," Giles said.

Even at work, Giles says Whitehead's focus was always on his ill wife.

"He was just a very compassionate person," Giles said. "He would do anything to help you." She added: "I know, even after she passed, how depressed and how sad he was and it just tore his world up."

Whitehead's former full-time partner at another employer, Clark County Ambulance, didn't want to be identified. He also knew Ashley Whitehead well and says even though he wasn't sure what her illness was, over time, her headaches and stomach pains got worse.

"After awhile, she'd start complaining," the EMT recalled. "She would say: 'Well my head's hurting a little bit and I'm not feeling too good,' she would say."

Whitehead's former co-worker says he worked with him on 24- and 48-hour shifts, so he was in disbelief when he heard that Ashley was dead and that Whitehead was charged with his murder.

"When you find out it's somebody you�re close to, somebody that you know and somebody you work with for a long time, it's a shock."

He went on to say that he doesn't blame police for charging Whitehead, but hopes the truth will come out.

"The police officers, the detectives, they're doing their job, doing what they're trained to do and that's all they can do. They are here to find the facts and hopefully they'll find the facts: that it was unintentional if anything."

Whitehead's friends both say he seemed to be a person who lived to help people and that they'd be surprising if his emotions got the better of him.

"You're trained to see a problem and fix it, but there's some stuff we just can't fix," Giles said.

Whitehead is being held on a $100,000 bond. Along with murder, he's charged with domestic violence, wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, practicing medicine without a license and theft.

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