Thursday, December 14, 2006

hang on till june, jack

Assisted suicide advocate Kevorkian paroled
Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:16 PM ET

By Kevin Krolicki

DETROIT (Reuters) - Jack Kevorkian, a fiery assisted suicide advocate, will be released from a Michigan prison in June after serving eight years for murder and vowing never to help the terminally ill take their own lives again, state officials said on Wednesday.

Known as "Dr. Death," Kevorkian, 78, touched off a firestorm of controversy in the 1990s for presiding as a medical doctor in dozens of suicides and advocating the legalization of such procedures in the United States.

Kevorkian has been serving a 10- to 25-year sentence for second-degree murder for giving lethal injections to a man with Lou Gehrig's disease who died with Kevorkian's help in suburban Detroit in 1998.

A representative of the Michigan Parole Board interviewed Kevorkian on Thursday. The state parole board then approved a recommendation Kevorkian be paroled in June, the earliest possible date for his release, officials said.

Russ Marlan, a spokesman for Michigan's prison system, said Kevorkian acknowledged he had broken the law during a flamboyant eight-year campaign to legalize assisted suicide.

"He said that anything that would bring him back to prison, he will avoid. He said prison is no place to live," Marlan said.

Kevorkian will not be allowed to counsel anyone on suicide as a condition of parole, Marlan said, although he remains free to speak out on the issue of assisted suicides.

Marlan said Kevorkian, who will serve a 24-month parole, indicated that he planned to write and speak on the question of assisted suicide once free. But Marlan added: "I think he sees his role in this issue as diminished."

In 1997, Oregon became the first and only state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the United States.


Kevorkian, who claims he assisted in 130 deaths, had thwarted four attempts by prosecutors to convict him and flouted a state ban on assisted suicide that was passed in a bid to stop him.

But in 1999 a Michigan jury convicted Kevorkian of second-degree murder after he videotaped himself administering lethal shots to 52-year-old Thomas Youk and sent the tape to the CBS news show "60 Minutes."

In previous cases, Kevorkian had arranged to have those seeking to die under his supervision pull a string or otherwise start the process that led to their deaths from carbon dioxide or injected drugs.

Kevorkian said he had hoped that the jury would acquit him of the 1998 case and set a legal precedent for assisted suicide in the United States.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm had repeatedly refused to pardon Kevorkian or commute his sentence.

Kevorkian's lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, petitioned four times for his client's early release, saying Kevorkian was unlikely to survive in prison because of his failing health.

In June 1990, Kevorkian first attracted notoriety when the retired pathologist helped a 54-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease kill herself in the back of his rusty van.

(Additional reporting by Jui Chakravorty)


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