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Prosecutor Makes Last-Ditch Attempt to Convict Kevorkian

November 1, 1996

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ Dr. Jack Kevorkian was charged Thursday with assisting three suicides since June _ a defeated prosecutor’s last-ditch effort to put the retired pathologist in prison.

Kevorkian, ever defiant, surrendered to police and was arraigned on 19 charges brought by Oakland County Prosecutor Richard Thompson, including three counts of assisting in suicides _ a common law felony.

``This is the end of it,″ Kevorkian declared.

``Either Thompson dies or I die. And I mean by that, really, we’ve got to get out of this for good and this has got to die as a legal issue. Or I die, one of the two,″ Kevorkian said. ``I don’t care which way it is, but’s it’s going to end now.″

Thompson, who failed in two previous attempts to convict Kevorkian, filed the new charges even though his term ends Dec. 31. He lost a primary to a candidate who accused him of wasting tax dollars pursuing Kevorkian.

Thompson said he expects his successor to carry out the case.

``You do not have a right under the law in the state of Michigan to assist in a suicide,″ he said.

But some experts in criminal procedure weren’t sure how Thompson could compel his successor to follow through. ``My initial reaction would be once his term’s up, it’s up,″ Edward Sosnick, chief judge of Oakland County Circuit Court, told the Detroit Free Press.

Kevorkian, 68, an advocate of doctor-assisted suicide, has acknowledged being present at 44 deaths since 1990.

A magistrate originally set a $20,000 bond barring him from assisting in suicides. Kevorkian, who has accused authorities of using ``Gestapo″ tactics against him, raised his right arm in a mock Nazi salute and exclaimed ``Heil″ has he was led from the courtroom.

``That is so offensive,″ said assistant prosecutor Neil Rockind, who had family die in the Holocaust. ``I find that absolutely atrocious. That is so outrageous.″

District Judge Edward Avadenka changed it later Thursday to a $50,000 personal bond without the restriction, saying he would not ``make a martyr out of Dr. Kevorkian.″ Kevorkian had refused to pay the lower bond; a personal bond doesn’t require a payment.

In the latest case, Kevorkian is charged with assisting in three suicides since June: Bette Lou Hamilton, 67, of Columbus, Ohio; Shirley Kline, 63, of Oceanside, Calif.; and Rebecca Badger, 39, of Goleta, Calif. He faces five years in prison on each count if convicted.

Kevorkian also faces 16 related counts, including conspiracy, presenting himself as a physician while engaging in unlawful conduct, possessing a controlled substance, removing bodies without permission of the medical examiner and attempting to assist a suicide, Thompson said.

Thompson said the charges involve 10 deaths from June 20 to Sept. 7.

The prosecutor said Kevorkian associate Neal Nicol and Dr. Georges Reding, a psychiatrist, also were charged with conspiracy to assist suicide, assisting suicide and removing a body without medical examiner’s permission.

Thompson also served Kevorkian with a notice on Tuesday requiring him to explain why he should not be held in contempt for violating a 1991 court order barring him from assisting in suicides.

The order was sought by prosecutors after Kevorkian attended the death of Janet Adkins, the first person known to have died in Kevorkian’s presence.

The order specifically prohibits Kevorkian from supplying machines, equipment and drugs, or from ``conducting any acts″ that help people die.

The U.S. Supreme Court in early October turned away Kevorkian’s challenge to the 1991 injunction. Kevorkian and his attorney have said repeatedly Kevorkian won’t be deterred by court orders or laws against assisting suicide.

If found in contempt, Kevorkian could be jailed for 30 days in each of the four deaths cited in the notice. He also would be subject to a $250 fine in each case. A hearing is set for Wednesday.

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