An 88-year-old man has been jailed after he tried to kill his wife with a hammer in an attempted mercy killing in New York state.

Martin Turkiewicz told the court on Thursday (8 January) that he wanted to end his wife's suffering from dementia during the attack at her nursing home.

The Cheektowaga resident has been jailed for six months for the attack on his wife of sixty years, Rita at the Garden Gate Health Care Facility, on the outskirts of Buffalo.

The court was told that Martin entered a room where his wife was doing physical rehabilitation therapy and hit the 86-year-old across the head with a hammer.

After he struck her with the hammer Martin believed that he killed her, but Rita survived and is currently recovering from serious injuries including a fractured skull.

Turkiewicz was originally charged with attempted murder, in the second degree, but pleaded guilty to second-degree assault.

The Buffalo News reported that within days of the serious assault. family members said Rita let them know that she had forgiven her husband.

One of the couple's daughters, Diana Cline, told the court: "Everybody knew that Mom had health issues – bad knees, loss of her sight from macular degeneration, and dementia.

"Our father is a man who made a horrible mistake," she said. "Please allow my mother and father to see each other again, so he can apologize. Let them hold hands and hug and tell each other they need and love each other."

Martin also addressed the court telling the judge that he wanted to apologise to his wife and his family for the pain and suffering he has caused.

"I believe she needs to hear the apology from me. I am pleading with the court and Garden Gate Manor to please allow me to tell my wife how sorry I am and how much I love her," he said.

An order of protection bans Martin from seeing or contacting his wife except under supervision, reported the Associated Press (AP).

Judge Kenneth F. Case told Turkiewicz: "You have an amazing love story, and a tragic love story. I do believe this assault was done, in your mind, without malicious intent, and with love."