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Doctor’s Case To Examine Right-to-Die Question

October 31, 1988

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ A doctor who said he drugged his cancer-stricken wife so she could end her life with dignity goes on trial more than two years later for her murder.

Dr. Peter Rosier, 47, is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted first-degree murder. His trial was scheduled to begin today.

″This is something that is done in the medical community all the time,″ said his attorney, Stanley Rosenblatt. ″Doctors assist their terminally ill patients who want to die, and everybody just winks at it.

″To put him in the same category as an organized crime figure or someone who robs a 7-Eleven in the middle of the night is absurd.″

Rosenblatt said he would call doctors and mercy-killing experts to testify for the defense.

Rosier is accused of giving his 43-year-old wife, Patricia Rosier, a 6- milligram morphine injection and 80-milligram morphine suppository on Jan. 5, 1986. Rosier says his wife also took 20 tablets of Seconal, a sleeping pill, which he didn’t administer.

Steve Wisotsky, a Nova University law professor assisting the defense, said the drugs the doctor gave to his wife weren’t enough to kill her.

After the drugs were administered, Mrs. Rosier lay near death for hours and her stepfather, Vincent Delham, finished the effort by suffocating her, according to court records.

Delham and his two sons, who said they were in the room, have been granted immunity from prosecution and are expected to be state’s witnesses.

Rosier immediately opened himself to suspicion by going on Fort Myers television station WBBH in November 1986 to talk about his 641-page book ″The Lady.″ It was about his and his wife’s lives, and her death.

Rosier, a retired pathologist, may have exhibited ″colossal stupidity″ by going public with the act, but that doesn’t make him a murderer, Rosenblatt said.

Wisotsky said Mrs. Rosier had a constitutional right to die with dignity, but prosecutor Ed Volz has asked Lee County Circuit Judge James Thompson to prohibit any discussion of euthanasia and morality.

″Philosophy, ethics, morality will confuse the jury and they will not be able to reach an acceptable verdict based on the law,″ Volz said.

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