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Kevorkian Arrives for Court Appearance in Homemade Shackles

September 14, 1995

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ Dr. Jack Kevorkian arrived in homemade stocks and a ball and chain today for his arraignment on assisted suicide charges.

``Kevorkian is accepting his medieval punishment,″ his attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, told reporters at the Oakland County courthouse.

Kevorkian, a retired pathologist who advocates doctor help for the terminally ill who want to commit suicide, was wearing laminated cardboard stocks, his arms and head stuck through the holes. He wore a mock ball and chain and had signs hanging on his front and back.

``Common law of Middle Ages. What’s next, the Inquisition?″ read one sign. And on the back: ``Think this is a circus? You’re right. But blame the seven Supreme Court jesters.″

The sign was apparently in reference to a state Supreme Court ruling that said assisted suicide could be prosecuted in Michigan under common law.

``Nobody with brains should take this seriously,″ Kevorkian said. ``It’s nuts.″

Kevorkian, 67, took off the items before entering the courtroom.

He was arraigned on two counts of assisted suicide, a five-year felony under common law provisions. When Kevorkian stood mute, Circuit Judge David Breck entered an innocent plea for him. The judge also set a tentative trial date of April 1, 1996.

``April Fool’s Day _ I think it’s got poetic justice,″ Fieger said as he and Kevorkian left the hearing.

The charges stem from the 1991 deaths of two seriously ill women, Sherry Miller, who used a device to inject lethal drugs, and Marjorie Wantz, who inhaled carbon monoxide.

He originally was accused of murdering them, but a judge dismissed those charges and ordered him tried on assisted suicide counts. He already faces a February trial on charges in two 1993 deaths.

Assistant prosecutor Gregory Townsend acknowledged cases involving Kevorkian stir emotions, but said he was confident a jury would follow the law and find that Kevorkian helped the women commit suicide illegally.

``It’s not really hard to figure out what he should not be doing″ to keep from violating law, Townsend said.

Kevorkian remains free without bond from the earlier case.

Kevorkian has acknowledged attending 25 deaths since 1990. Most have occurred as the person inhaled carbon monoxide from a canister, although he did invent an intravenous suicide device a court has banned him from using.

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