Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Melchert-Dinkel Convicted!

http://www.startribune.com/local/274484921.html

Minnesota judge convicts ex-nurse of assisting suicide of English man he encouraged online

  • Article by: STEVE KARNOWSKI , Associated Press
  • Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:25 PM 

MINNEAPOLIS - An ex-nurse who admitted going online and encouraging people to kill themselves was convicted Tuesday of assisting the suicide of an English man and attempting to assist in the suicide of a Canadian woman, following a legal battle[] that has spanned more than four years and led to the reversal of part of a Minnesota law that outlaws the practice.

Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville ruled that the state proved that William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, assisted in the suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. He said the state failed to prove Melchert-Dinkel 's assistance was a direct cause of the suicide of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, but found him guilty on a lesser charge of attempting to help her take her life.

Melechert-Dinkel's attorney, Terry Watkins, did not immediately return messages seeking reaction to the verdict. But the prosecutor, Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster, said the judge meticulously followed a Minnesota Supreme Court decision from last March that narrowed the state's assisted suicide law.

"This has been a rather long and drawn out process, which has been difficult for the families," Beaumaster said. "... I really hope this helps the families find some closure."

The mothers of Drybrough and Kajouji did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Neuville scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 15. The same judge had also convicted Melchert-Dinkel in 2011 of encouraging the two suicides but put his 360-day jail sentence on hold pending appeals.

"The Defendant did not physically assist either Drybrough or Kajouji in taking their own life," the judge wrote in a ruling dated Monday but not released until Tuesday. "However, there is significant evidence that the Defendant assisted Drybrough, and attempted to assist Kajouji, commit suicide by providing them with specific instructions and methodology for completing the suicide."

Kajouji jumped into a frozen river in 2008, and Drybrough hanged himself in 2005.

In his ruling, Neuville said Melchert-Dinkel provided both Drybrough and Kajouji with detailed information about how to hang themselves, and that Drybrough followed his instructions. However, he noted that while the defendant gave Kajouji detailed and specific instructions about hanging, she did not follow them and chose another method. So the judge said Melchert-Dinkel was guilty only of attempting to assist her suicide.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed Melchert-Dinkel 's original conviction in March, saying part of the state law that made it illegal to "advise" or "encourage" suicides was an unconstitutionally broad restriction on free[] speech. However, the justices upheld a part of the law that makes it a crime to "assist" in someone's suicide. The ruling said speech alone can be used to assist or enable a suicide if it is narrowly targeted to one person and provides that person with what is needed to carry out the act.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings because the judge did not rule at the time on whether Melchert-Dinkel actually assisted in the two suicides.

Evidence in the case showed Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and sought out depressed people online. He posed as a suicidal female nurse, feigning compassion and offering step-by-step instructions on how they could kill themselves. He acknowledged participating in online chats about suicide with up to 20 people and entering into fake suicide pacts with about 10, five of whom he believed killed themselves.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Minnesota prosecutors try to prove man's online chats assisted in suicides of depressed people

http://www.startribune.com/local/270494691.htm

By Associated Press, Updated: August 8, 2014 - 2:20 PM


Image result for nadia kajouji
Nadia Kajouji,
FARIBAULT, Minn. — Prosecutors in Minnesota argued Friday that a former nurse should be convicted of assisting suicide for sending emails and other online communications in which he urged two people to kill themselves and gave them information on how to do it.

William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, was back in court more than three years after he was convicted of encouraging suicides. The Minnesota Supreme Court earlier this year reversed those convictions, saying the state's law against encouraging or advising suicides was too broad.

The high court however upheld part of the law that makes it a crime to assist someone's suicide, and attorneys for both sides returned to Rice County District Court to argue over whether Melchert-Dinkel's conduct qualified.

Melchert-Dinkel was originally convicted in 2011 in the deaths of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, and Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. Kajouji jumped into an icy river in 2008 and Drybrough hanged himself in 2005.

Evidence at that trial showed Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and sought out depressed people online, posing as a suicidal female nurse, faking compassion and offering detailed instructions on how they could kill themselves. Police said he told them he did it for "the thrill of the chase."

In an hour long hearing Friday, Assistant Rice County Attorney Terence Swihart said the state Supreme Court had defined "assist" as providing a person with what they need to commit suicide. Melchert-Dinkel met that definition by providing information, he argued, according to the Faribault Daily News (http://bit.ly/1sFCW7x ).

"He turned Kajouji from someone who was terrified to die into someone who killed herself. He provided Nadia Kajouji with what she needed to commit suicide. ... He dissuaded Drybrough from using other methods, such as overdosing, which was his preferred method, because it's unpredictable, something he knew as a nurse."

Defense attorney Terry Watkins said that while Melchert-Dinkel encouraged the suicides, he didn't have a knowing role in the commission of the acts and there is no evidence that his advice led to the suicides.

"There was no nexus between what (Kajouji) did and what (Melchert-Dinkel) said," said Watkins. "Although on its face Drybrough looks like a case involving assisting, it's not. He had decided on hanging as a second method long before he met Mr. Melchert-Dinkel."

Evidence presented earlier in the case included emails in which Melchert-Dinkel gave Drybrough details on how to hang himself, stating "just a sturdy knot is very much all one needs." Internet chats with Kajouji suggest he posed as a compassionate, suicidal woman who promised she would die shortly after Kajouji. In one conversation, he allegedly told her hanging would be better than jumping, and: "im just tryin to help you do what is best for you not me."

District Judge Thomas Neuville took the case under advisement and was to issue a decision within 30 days.