A judge has ruled that Jack Kevorkian should be prosecuted for assisted suicide, not murder, because there was no evidence he directly caused the deaths of two women in 1991.
Kevorkian didn't start the device that injected lethal drugs into Sherry Miller or open the canister from which Marjorie Wantz inhaled carbon monoxide, Circuit Judge David F. Breck said Wednesday."Had the women not activated the devices, their deaths would not have occurred," he said.
But Breck said there was ample evidence that Kevorkian bought the supplies and set up the devices. The judge dismissed murder charges and ordered Kevorkian to stand trial for assisted suicide.
Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Townsend thought Breck's ruling was wrong. "The law is quite clear," he said. "If one actively participates in the death, then they're liable for murder."
Over the past five years, the 67-year-old Kevorkian, an advocate
for physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, has witnessed at least 25 deaths.
The bodies of Wantz, 58, and Miller, 43, were found together in a remote cabin. Miller had multiple sclerosis; Wantz severe pelvic pain.
In 1992, Breck dismissed murder charges in the case and ruled that there was no law in Michigan against assisted suicide. A state appellate court reinstated the murder charges
In December, the state Supreme Court upheld the law against assisted suicide. The state's highest court went a step further and said that assisted suicide could be prosecuted.