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Great News: Minnesota appeals court upholds conviction for assisted suicide

by | Dec 21, 2016

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of the “Final Exit Network” in the assisted suicide death of Doreen Dunn who died May 30, 2007.

On May 14, 2015, a jury found the Final Exit Network [FEN] guilty of assisted suicide. The group was sentenced on August 24, 2015. FEN then appealed.

In an 18-page decision, the Court of Appeals found “that the state’s Supreme Court has already ruled that Minnesota’s assisted-suicide law is constitutional and that ‘assisting’ suicide can include speech instructing another person on methods,” the Associated Press reported.

“At the trial, prosecutors argued that the group gave Dunn a ‘blueprint’ for ending her life using helium asphyxiation and made efforts to conceal her suicide from family and authorities by removing the equipment she used,” reported the [Minneapolis] Star-Tribune’s David Chanen. “Relatives said she wasn’t mentally competent.”

During the trial, the Associated Press reported:

Dakota County prosecutor Elizabeth Swank told jurors that the evidence showed that two members of Final Exit Network went to Dunn’s home in Apple Valley to assist her suicide. They then removed the equipment that she used for suicide so that it appeared she had died of natural causes.

Dunn’s husband of 29 years arrived home on May 30, 2007, to find her dead on the couch. Swank said Dunn had a blanket pulled up to her neck with her hands folded on her chest.

Swank said that despite Dunn’s pain and depression, she had no life-threatening illness and her family was puzzled by her death. There were good things happening in her life: Her daughter who had been in Africa for about a year was coming home the next day and her son’s fiancée was scheduled to give birth that week. However, her husband was also planning to move out, the prosecutor said.

According to Chanen

Criminal cases against Final Exit Network coordinator Roberta Massey, of Bear, Del., and the group’s medical director, Lawrence Egbert, 87, of Baltimore, are still pending.

Another defendant, Jerry Dincin, died and charges against Thomas Goodwin were dismissed in 2013.

Robert Rivas, the lawyer for the assisted suicide group, did not dispute that Jerry Dincin and Larry Egbert were present at Dunn’s death, but argued that they didn’t assist her suicide.

The Final Exit Network has been prosecuted in several assisted suicide cases. In Georgia, John Celmer, who was depressed after recovering from cancer, died by suicide with the assistance of the Final Exit Network.

Celmer’s widow, Susan Celmer, testified against the Final Exit Network. The Final Exit Network assists the suicide of people at the most vulnerable time of their life. Last year Larry Egbert, the medical director for the Final Exit Network, lost his medical license in Maryland.