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Kevorkian Helps Two More People Commit Suicide

February 5, 1993

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) _ In a sunlit room as music played, two elderly cancer patients committed suicide. They were strangers until Dr. Jack Kevorkian brought them together.

Stanley Ball, 82, and Mary Biernat, 73, killed themselves by breathing carbon monoxide through masks Thursday in Ball’s bungalow in Leland, a pictureseque community of about 1,600 on Lake Michigan.

They were the 10th and 11th patients the self-styled suicide doctor has helped die.

″She was in a makeshift daybed in a nice, sunlit room, and he was lying on a nearby couch,″ Leelanau County Prosecutor G. Thomas Aylsworth said. ″They were within 15 feet of each other. It appears she was listening to music.″

Each donned a mask attached to a tank of carbon monoxide, then pulled a string to release the gas as Kevorkian watched. Biernat’s two sons were also present, as were Ball’s son and the son’s fiancee, said Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian’s lawyer.

Fieger said a flurry of people have been seeking Kevorkian’s help in dying before a Michigan ban on assisted suicide takes effect March 30. The law makes assisted suicide a crime punishable by up to four years in prison.

The ban, approved in December hours after Kevorkian helped two women kill themselves, will remain in place for 15 months while the issue is studied.

Kevorkian, who promotes doctor-assisted suicide for some terminally ill people, has said he intends to ignore the ban because he believes it is immoral.

He was charged with murder in the first three deaths, but prosecutors were unable to make the charges stick because the state had no law against assisting suicide. He has not been charged in any of the other suicides.

Ball, who was blind, suffered from pancreatic cancer and had jaundice as a result. Biernat, who lived in Crown Point, Ind., had breast cancer that had spread into her chest.

″Both of the patients were in extreme pain and needless to say were near death,″ Fieger said.

Kevorkian was unwilling to travel to Indiana for Biernat’s suicide because he was unsure what authorities there would do, even though Indiana has no law against assisted suicide, Fieger said. All the suicides in which Kevorkian has assisted took place in Michigan.

Kevorkian last assisted a suicide on Jan. 20, when a 53-year-old man with bone cancer released carbon monoxide into a mask with Kevorkian’s help.

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