Entries in Assisted Suicide (3)


Texas Man Accused of Helping Wife Commit Suicide

Harris Country Sheriff's Office(HARRIS COUNTY, Texas) -- A jailed Houston man said he and his wife were going through financial difficulties when he helped her commit suicide, according to authorities.

Mark Kelly, 47, called the police Saturday morning after he found his wife Sonia Marie Dixon dead in their apartment. He was later arrested on a state felony charge of aiding a suicide.

Dixon, 49, wanted to end her life, so Kelly bought her a plastic bag, a helium tank and plastic tubes — together commonly known as a suicide bag — and set them up so that she could asphyxiate herself, Kelly told investigators, according to Harris County Sherriff’s Office spokesman Dep. Thomas Gilliland.

Told by Dixon to leave the apartment, Kelly spent the night at a motel while Dixon killed herself.

"[Kelly] told us his wife had told him she wanted to kill herself, that she could not go on with the way things were," Gilliland said.

Dixon was found with a note and a 1996 book titled Final Exit, by Derek Humphry, which contains advice for the terminally ill on how to end their lives, Gilliland said.

Dionne Press, Kelly's attorney, said the case was the first assisted suicide case Harris County has seen in recent memory.

"It was amazing to me," Gilliland said. "I'd never seen [an assisted-suicide] case that charges were actually taken on."

The case is likely to revolve around the question of to what degree Kelly's actions caused Dixon's death, Press said, adding that some crucial information about the sequence of events has not yet been established.

Given the "totality of the circumstances," Kelly merited the charge of aiding a suicide, said Donna Hawkins, a Harris County assistant district attorney.

Dixon and Kelly filed for divorce in September, but the case was dismissed two weeks ago after the couple decided not to pursue it. Sheriff's office investigators determined that Dixon and Kelly had recently lost their house.

Immigration authorities have placed a hold on Kelly, a United Kingdom national with no criminal history, and on Monday, State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis raised Kelly's bond from $2,000 to $20,000.

Kelly will be arraigned on July 30 and faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Who Claimed He Assisted a Suicide Convicted of Murder

Photo Coutesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An unemployed drug addict who claimed he was paid to assist a motivational speaker commit suicide was convicted Thursday of murder.

A New York City jury found Kenneth Minor guilty of first degree murder in the death of Jeffrey Locker, a Long Island self-help guru whose business was floundering.

The prosecution conceded that Locker was suicidal and sought out Minor on a Harlem street corner in July 2009.

Minor and the prosecution agreed that Locker asked Minor to make his death look like a robbery so Locker's family would be able to claim a multi-million dollar insurance settlement.

Minor's lawyer told the jury his client simply held a knife against the steering wheel of Locker's station wagon as Locker thrust his chest against the blade to kill himself.

"He was taken advantage of... He's no contract killer," said Minor's lawyer, Daniel Gotlin, in closing arguments. Gotlin said Minor should be acquitted under a state statue that allows an assisted suicide defense in some murder charges.

But the prosecution said Minor killed Locker for money, binding his hands and stabbing the man repeatedly in the chest.

"This was murder for money, not a mercy killing, which is why we prosecuted the case as an intentional murder," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement. "We believe the jurors got it right with their verdict."

Gotlin said he would appeal the jury's verdict.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Murder or Assisted Suicide? Death of Motivational Speaker Hits Court

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A bizarre murder trial set to begin Thursday in New York City has the makings of both a good mystery novel and a precedent-setting case on what defines assisted suicide.

On the morning of July 16, 2009, police found the body of Jeffrey Locker, 52, a father of three and a motivational speaker from Long Island, slumped over the steering wheel of his black station wagon.  Locker's hands were tied behind his back, his chest was punctured by multiple stab wounds, and his wallet was missing.

The prime suspect was caught later that day.  Kenneth Minor, 38, an unemployed computer technician and a drug addict with a long criminal history, was seen on video withdrawing $1,000 from several ATMs using Locker's bank card.

When cops caught up with Minor, he told them an incredible story: Locker approached him on a street corner and asked his help to commit suicide.  He promised to give him his ATM card and PIN number as payment for his assistance.

Minor told police Locker drove through the streets of uptown Manhattan looking for someone to "do a Kevorkian," according to court documents and published accounts of a written statement he gave police.

"Locker said it had to look like a robbery so his family can get what they deserve," Minor wrote.

In the year-and-a-half since Minor's arrest, new evidence has emerged suggesting the man is telling the truth and Locker was indeed looking to kill himself.

Locker had made a fortune from his speeches teaching people how to deal with stress, but evidence from the months before his death suggest he was deeply in debt and took out a $4 million life insurance policy on himself for his family.  Minor's lawyer says it is evidence he was planning to kill himself.

The strange tale of how and why Minor agreed to get into Locker's car that morning may be of interest to jurors, but the ultimate question will come down to what he did in the car.  Did he "actively" murder Locker or did he "passively" assist in his suicide?  Minor's defense will turn on that question.

Though state law classifies "causing or aiding" someone in a suicide as manslaughter, Minor is charged with second-degree murder.  Prosecutors argue that murder is murder, even at someone's request.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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