"Right To Die" Case Closing Arguments Scheduled Monday After Defense Calls It a Day

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​Jurors apparently won't be hearing from the two Final Exit Network defendants in a classic "right-to-die" case involving the assisted suicide of a mentally troubled Phoenix woman.

Attorneys for the pair, Dr. Larry Egbert and Frank Langsner, told Superior Court Judge Paul McMurdie yesterday afternoon that they don't plan to call any witnesses in the case, which touches on profound moral, ethical and legal issues.

Scottsdale resident Langsner, who is 86, is charged with manslaughter (under an assisting suicide statute) and conspiracy to commit manslaughter. Egbert,  the medical director of the right-to-die organization Final Exit Network and a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, is charged with conspiracy to commit manslaughter.


Readers of this blog know basic details of the case, which are available right here -- a story we cobbled together months after the April 12, 2007, suicide of Jana Van Voorhis.

Jurors today continued to consider testimony from Wye Hale-Rowe, a one-time "senior exit guide" for the Final Exit Network. She'd flown to Arizona to "direct" (her word) the suicide by helium inhalation of Van Voorhis, who had joined the organization ($50 for a membership) weeks before what it calls "the death event."   

Hale-Rowe pleaded guilty to reduced charges last year in return for her testimony.

She confirmed that she and Langsner advised Van Voorhis how to attach a hose to a pair of helium tanks, to don an oxygen-eliminating hood snugly over one's head, and then to self-asphyxiate by inhaling the helium.

Her testimony was compelling, though the fact that Van Voorhis was not suffering a terminal illness made it equally creepy.

Hale-Rowe, who is a retired therapist also in her 80s, seemed to want to diminish Langsner's possible criminal culpability. Yet she conceded that Langsner had been in contact with Van Voorhis for weeks before the suicide, and had mentored her through several steps toward a possible "hastened death" (as the Final Exit crew likes to call it).

Hale-Rowe said she hadn't contacted medical director Egbert about the Van Voorhis case before the suicide. Egbert's attorney, a savvy old pro from Atlanta named Donald Samuel, asked the woman why she and Langsner had taken pains to keep both their presence and the fact of the suicide from Van Voorhis' sister, Viki Thomas.

"She said her sister would put her away if she knew she was thinking about dying, about ending her life," Hale-Rowe replied. 

"Did you encourage her to end her life?" Samuel asked.

"No."

"Did you advise her that she should commit suicide?"

"No."

"Was it her choice?"

"Yes. Not only her choice -- her request."

The barrister's questions were purposeful: Samuel likely was trying to deflect what prosecutors are bound to argue in their closings -- that Frank Langsner (and by proxy, Dr. Egbert -- who "approved" Final Exit's involvement in the suicide) aided, abetted, advised and otherwise illegally helped the 58-year-old woman to kill herself.

We are usually in the ballpark when it comes to predicting outcomes of trials, having been sitting through them for more years than we like to think about.

This one, however, is tricky.

At this point late in the proceedings, we just can't see a unanimous guilty verdict against either of the right-to-die octogenarians. 

Surely, stay tuned.
 
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8 comments
linwin
linwin

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MIKE YEVTUCK
MIKE YEVTUCK

we all die sooner or later so get used to the idea.

Ray Rats on Foakes
Ray Rats on Foakes

Many comments in this newspaper are not by the real Mike yevtuck god of the USa hells angels like the above comment

Mike Yevtuck pisses on 81
Mike Yevtuck pisses on 81

Everyone wants to post as Mike Yevtuck God and Ruler of the USA hells angels yet all you hells angels cock sucking faggots and all the aging rebel men you faggots date would never have the nerve to be Mike yevtuck in real Life. Life is what you out of shape non fighting geeks will never have . You hells angel freaks will always live in the shadow of Mike Yevtuck the God and ruler of the hells angels

Carol Loving
Carol Loving

As the mother of Nick Loving, who was fortunate enough to receive the kind assistance of Dr. Kevorkian, on May 12,1995, I have a lot to say on this matter but I will keep it short.

I know through experience that we live under medical tyranny in this state and country.

When I helped my son, dying and greatly suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, escape the dictates of Arizona and flew him to Michigan, we both felt like prisoners fleeing a nazi prison camp. We trusted The Arizona Republic with the story so my son could tell you why he was seeking the help of Dr. Kevorkian. I was very proud of my son to allow the coverage and he wanted his Good Death to have an impact on this country.

Seven years later, in 2002, his twin brother, Drew Loving, was dying from AIDS, and, together the two of us suffered the extreme ravages of medical tyranny. A doctor at the county hospital ignored hospital rules, rushed my son into surgery and within twelve hours Drew went into respiratory failure.

The doctor then told me he would not take my son off the machine until he had completed ten full days of respiratory therapy and he would conduct do nothing further medical procedures with my son, without consulting me, the authorized agent for medical decisions.

Quite the opposite. Estranged family members and the hospital united in an effort to transfer power from my hands to Drew's mentally and emotionally disturbed sister. There was quite a united effort to accuse me of wanting my son dead and that I had cyanide capsules I intended to give him.

While Drew was in a coma, the doctor helped Drew's sister bring the court into the matter and in an unbelievable kangaroo courtroom, my son became a ward of the court and his sister became his temporary guardian. Further abuse resulted. The doctor did unnecessary surgery on Drew before he brought him out of the coma and he permitted Drew's sister to ban us from seeing each other.

With an attorney, it took the court two weeks to grant me an emergency hearing, and when that did occur, the same judge began the proceeding by saying she had already determined that Drew's sister would remain his temporary guardian until the hearing for permanent guardianship took place. I was granted supervised visits.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Through the grace of god, I was able to get Drew home to die in his bed as he wanted. That was followed by his AIDS doctor making a call to APS alleging that I was neglecting Drew at home and that I was brainwashing him. One more attack by the medical community. Drew got his wish to die at home and I took loving care of him to his very last breath.

After my son passed, I received death threats over the telephone, all four of my tires were sliced, and my life-long estranged alcoholic sister called the Phoenix Homicide Department from Tucson to say that she believed I murdered my son. She told the police that I had taken Drew's twin brother to Dr. Kevorkian, that I was obsessed with death, and there were suspicious circumstances surrounding Drew's death.

Does it get any worse?

There was no investigation of any kind and no police report was made; however, my son's body was picked up from the funeral home and taken to the county medical examiner's office for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death -- without a warrant issued by the court!

As a writer, I have been advised that for legal reasons I should tell Drew's story in fiction. That is just what I am doing. To be honest, I wish the New Times would expose this abuse of power. I have overwhelming documentation to back my words of truth.

Thank you for allowing me to speak,Carol Loving, AuthorMy Son, My Sorrow: The Tragic Tale of Dr. Kevorkian's Youngest Patienthttp://www.carolloving.com/

Robert Rivas
Robert Rivas

Bravo, Carol. But New Times is not going to expose any abuse of power. New Times is not really an "alternative" paper. Just the opposite, it's a paper that reproduces the official line of the authorities. The government line gets fed to New Times by "sources" (which is to say, cops and prosecutors who can't find any other reporter who will publish their junk), then breathlessly revealed, as in, New Times "broke" the story.

Deniseaz
Deniseaz

Hospice of the Valley can bringi n 2 bottles of liquid morphine, and on top have all ready pushed out a huge amount of morphine in pill form , just to keep encouraging takeing that stuff , they had pulled this on me , got so bad i could not keep water nor food in , but that is ok , they got paid to pull this . they realy did a major damage on me , (and YES I DO HAVE PAPERS TO PROVE THIS > INCLUDEING THE PHARMACY ERECIEPTS !!! ) . they was doing the EXACT SAME THING AS F.E.N. !!! but was doing in a way thay not only got paid , but they are Legal ? i lost Drs . and even had to come off that stuff by my self,

if i have the Cancers return , well i want the right to chose , and as well i shall not EVER EVER use Hospice of the Valley nor do i recommend them . . nor would i trust any hospice agency

i do however have to say , that to use the F.E.N. system to go , over depression, or just wanting an out,. well that is one thing i would not accept, but if a true medical issue is there , ( and yes mental health is an issue ,and some times even shrinks can do way more harm than good ) . but if a choise in a real death/life issue , i would say , bring out the people of F.E.N. , and my family, friends , and truely go as a choise free of corperation influance .

Roro
Roro

Suicide is an illegal act because it allows the individual to deny the State's demand to retain ultimate authority over their citizens. Why else would some jurisdiction authorize law enforcement to use deadly force to prevent the suicide of an unarmed individual?

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