Dr Death verdict soon

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The Independent Online
THE MURDER trial of the euthanasia campaigner Jack Kevorkian headed towards a conclusion yesterday after he declined to bring any defence witnesses and the court went directly to closing arguments. America's "Dr Death", who says he has helped more than 130 people to die, is charged with the premeditated murder last year of Thomas Youk, 52.

The doctor admits administering the fatal injection but denied yesterday that his intention was to kill. Responding to the prosecutor's charge that he clearly intended to kill Mr Youk, he said: "He can't know whether I had intent to kill. I know I did not."

Mr Youk was incapacitated from Lou Gehrig's disease and Dr Kevorkian has argued that his duty as a physician was to end his suffering.

Shortly before the trial opened in Pontiac, Michigan last Monday, Dr Kevorkian caused a stir by obtaining leave to defend himself but his unfamiliarity with legal technicalities has complicated his case.

The judge rejected his request to call witnesses to testify to Mr Youk's suffering, and he decided not to testify on his own account. Contrary to the pleas of the prosecution and Dr Kevorkian - who wanted a ruling on the legality of "mercy-killing" - the judge directed the jury to consider conviction on a lesser charge; second degree murder or manslaughter.