Court Reverses Convictions in Aiding-Suicide Case

Posted at: 03/19/2014 10:31 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed the convictions of a former nurse accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.

The court ruled Wednesday that the language in the state's assisted-suicide law is unconstitutional when it comes to "encouraging" suicides.

But it found the part of the law that bans "assisting" suicide is constitutional. It sent the case against 51-year-old William Melchert-Dinkel back to a lower court.

Melchert-Dinkel, 51, was convicted on two counts of aiding suicide in the deaths of two people: Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England, who hanged himself in 2005; and Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008.

Melchert-Dinkel argued that the law was too broad and that his conduct was protected speech.

His 360-day jail sentence had been on hold pending the outcome of the appeal. Prosecutors say Melchert-Dinkel encouraged someone from England and someone from Canada to kill themselves.

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