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Jailed Man Accused of Aiding Suicide

January 31, 2002

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A murder suspect was charged under North Dakota’s assisted-suicide law for helping an inmate hang himself in his jail cell, authorities said.

Richard Harvey, 45, was found in his Ward County jail cell last month hanging by a strip of blanket, Dale Maixner, an investigator with the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said in an affidavit.

A yellow elastic exercise band was also wrapped around his neck, and an open folder containing a handwritten list of medical problems was found in the cell.

Authorities said a security camera shows that Robert Morin, 21, made several trips in and out of Harvey’s cell before he alerted guards. The tape shows Morin placing a towel over a window in Harvey’s cell door, and holding a strip of blanket that was later found on Harvey, the affidavit said.

The tape also shows Morin shutting the door to Harvey’s cell, then looking inside seven times before alerting guards, authorities said.

Morin, who is accused of stabbing Janice Houle, 44, to death in March, was the only other person in the cell block with Harvey, authorities said.

On the day of the incident, Morin said he took a walk around the cell block and realized Harvey had hanged himself. He told authorities that he did not see anything before that, and that he had been inside his own cell.

Lynn Boughey, Morin’s attorney, said walking back and forth between cells is not illegal.

Harvey had been jailed on charges of violating a protection order, interference with an emergency telephone call, simple assault, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. He had not been convicted of any of the crimes.

Doug Mattson, the Ward County prosecutor, said Harvey had seen a doctor but declined further comment on his medical condition.

A law passed in 1991 makes assisted suicide a felony.

Jerry Kemmet, director of the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said he believes it’s the first time anyone has been charged under the law.

Morin faces up to five years in prison on the assisted suicide charge.

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