Murder charge over TV mercy killing

JACK KEVORKIAN, the militant euthanasia campaigner known as Doctor Death, was charged yesterday with murder and other crimes, presaging the courtroom showdown for which he has long hankered. The charges were brought after prosecutors in Michigan viewed a videotape that purports to show him injecting a terminally ill patient.

An edited tape had been shown on a documentary programme, 60 Minutes, accompanied by the doctor's commentary. He gave it to CBS with the intention of challenging the authorities to clarify the law on assisted suicide. While he claims to have helped 130 people to end their lives, this was the first time he had been seen giving the injection himself.

In previous cases he has admitted only to assisting the patient to end his life and in each of three cases that came to court he was acquitted.

The death of Thomas Youk, 52, who was shown on the video assenting twice to his demise, was the boldest of Dr Kevorkian's challenges to the judicial establishment. Mr Youk had Lou Gehrig's disease: he could move only slightly and could barely speak but twice signed a form authorising his death. Family members, who left the house during the doctor's last visit to avoid charges of complicity, were unanimous in their approval of Mr Youk's decision and how it had been carried out.

After obtaining the unedited videotape from CBS, the Oakland county prosecutor, David Goryca, said the state had decided to press charges. In addition to first-degree (premeditated) murder, Dr Kevorkian faces charges of criminal assistance of a suicide and delivery of a controlled substance (the lethal injection). "Whether or not a jury will convict Dr Kevorkian of the charges," Mr Goryca said, "will soon be in their province.He brought it upon himself." There was no objection to bail, and the 70-year-old doctor was released after being indicted.

If convicted of murder, he could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole. On Monday Mr Goryca had delayed any decision on prosecution until he had seen the video. Announcing the charges yesterday, he acknowledged that Mr Youk and his family had consented to his death but said: "Consent is not a defence in the state of Michigan." The edited video showed Dr Kevorkian quiz Mr Youk several times about his intentions and then administer a series of injections: a sedative, a muscle relaxant and finally - when it was apparent Mr Youk was unconscious and his head was lolling backwards - the fatal injection that stopped the heart.

Afterwards the CBS presenter, Mike Wallace, half-asked: "You killed him?" To which Dr Kevorkian replied: "I did. But it could be manslaughter, not murder. It's not necessarily murder. But it doesn't bother me what you call it. I know what it is. This could never be a crime in any society which deems itself enlightened." He said that if convicted and imprisoned he would starve himself to death in prison.

Dr Kevorkian has been charged with murder before. The first time stemmed from the 1990 death of Janet Adkins of Portland, Oregon, the first person whose death he attended. The charge was dropped by a judge who ruled the state had no law banning assisted suicide.

He was also acquitted in three trials involving five deaths. A fourth was declared a mistrial.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015