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Minnesota Jury convicts “Final Exit Network” of assisting in a suicide

by | May 14, 2015

 

By Dave Andrusko

FinalExit2Less than a year after the conviction of William Melchert Dinkel, who trolled the internet looking for depressed people so he could tell them how to kill themselves, a Dakota County jury this morning convicted the Final Exit Network of assisting in a suicide of a woman who lived in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

The verdict comes against the backdrop of two bills currently before the Minnesota Legislature to legalize assisted suicide: S.F. 1880 and H.F. 2095.

The jury heard three days of testimony. The (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune reported that the jury deliberated about 90 minutes before finding the Final Exit Network guilty of assisting in the 2007 suicide of Doreen Dunn and interfering with the death scene.

“The offenses are punishable by a total fine of $33,000,” according to Stephen Montemayor. “Sentencing has been set for Aug. 24.”

Montemayor also reported

In closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Assistant Dakota County Attorney Phil Prokopowicz told jurors that Final Exit Network Inc. gave Doreen Dunn, 57, the “blueprint” for ending her life and made efforts to conceal her suicide from family and authorities.

“There is both direct and circumstantial evidence as to what happened,” Prokopowicz said

The jury’s conviction “sends a very clear message that assisting suicide in our state is illegal,” said Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. “We commend Dakota Co. District Attorney James Backstrom and his counsel for having the courage to bring this suit against Final Exit Network. Final Exit Network purposely came into our state, broke our law and assisted in a suicide of a vulnerable person who needed care, not suicide.”

In a story that appeared over the weekend, the Associated Press’s Amy Forliti wrote

Court records say there was no sign of suicide in Dunn’s home and her death was considered natural. But internal Final Exit Network records showed Dunn had joined the right-to-die group earlier that year and two members — former medical director Dr. Larry Egbert and Jerry Dincin — made round-trip flights to Minnesota the day she died in 2007. Dunn’s death is noted in the group’s records.

Prosecutors believe Egbert and Dincin were Dunn’s “exit guides,” and disposed of materials she used to take her life.

Four members of the group were original charged. One member died, the charges against a second were dismissed, charges against a third were put on hold because of her frail health, and the fourth–Egbert–was separated “because prosecutors want to call him as a witness against Final Exit Network and granted him immunity.”

According to Forliti, Final Exit Network attorney Rob Rivas estimated the group “has recorded roughly 300 ‘exits’ since it was founded in 2004.” As he did at the trial, Rivas insisted what Final Exit Network does falls under constitutionally protected free speech and that the organization does not assist in suicides.

Categories: Assisted Suicide