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A prosecutor who has been unable to make murder charges stick against Dr. Jack Kevorkian because of a gap in the law lashed out at legislators after the suicide-machine inventor helped a fifth person kill herself.

"I think it's just a disgraceful disregard of their duty," Oakland County Prosecutor Richard Thomp-son said. "They'd rather deal with simple things like the state insect, the state flower."Kevorkian's lawyer said Saturday that Kevorkian had helped a 52-year-old woman with terminal lung cancer kill herself. Lois F. Hawes placed a mask over her face and turned on a canister of carbon monoxide with Kevorkian present, Geoffrey Fieger said.

Her last words were, "Please give me the gas," Fieger said.

In three previous cases in which Kevorkian has helped people commit suicide, Thompson filed charges only to see them thrown out by the courts because Michigan has no law against assisted suicide.

Four bills dealing with assisted suicide have languished in a legislative subcommittee since March.

Thompson said he won't try to charge Kevorkian in the fourth suicide until a state appeals court rules on one of the earlier dismissals. And he said it's too early to determine possible action in Hawes' death.

Sen. Fred Dillingham, a Republican who has sponsored a bill making it a crime to assist in a suicide, said, "There's no stopping Kevorkian unless we pass legislation that literally will take him off the streets."