Monday, August 24, 2015

Final Exit Network Receives Maximum Sentence for Assisting Suicide

A Dakota County judge on Monday ordered Final Exit Network, a national right-to-die group, to pay a $30,000 fine and nearly $3,000 in funeral costs for assisting an Apple Valley woman’s 2007 suicide.
The sentence was the maximum Judge Christian S. Wilton could impose on the corporation for assisting a suicide.

A jury found the Final Exit Network guilty in May of criminal charges of assisting a suicide and interfering with a death scene. It was the first time the national group had been convicted of a felony for assisting a suicide.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that the group gave Doreen Dunn, of Apple Valley, a “blueprint” for ending her life and made efforts to conceal her suicide from family and authorities by removing the equipment she used.
After the verdict, Robert Rivas, an attorney for Final Exit Network, said there was no evidence of assistance, only evidence of advising and encouraging a suicide.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last year that the state’s law forbidding “advising or encouraging” suicide was unconstitutional, but maintained it is illegal to assist physically or by use of speech.
Dunn, 57, killed herself by helium asphyxiation in 2007. In making her “exit request” to Final Exit Network, she wrote that she was “living with unbearable, excruciating” pain for 10 years after a medical procedure.
Criminal cases against Final Exit Network coordinator Roberta Massey, of Bear, Del., and the group’s medical director, Lawrence Egbert, 87, of Baltimore, are still pending.
Another defendant, Jerry Dincin, died and charges against Thomas Goodwin were dismissed in 2013.

Star Tribune staff writer Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.