Facing Possible Murder Charge, Assailant Intervenes in Right-to-Die Case
Mar. 27, 1989
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A man who spent three years in prison for aggravated assault asked a judge Monday to stop doctors from unhooking the victim's life support system.
Noel Pagan's interest in the case is simple: If Mark Weaver dies, Pagan could be charged with murder.
''My client has the right to intervene,'' Pagan's attorney, Robert Mullen, told Probate Court Judge Dana Childs. ''He has the right to be heard.''
But an attorney for Weaver's family, Charles Kadish, said Pagan should have no legal standing in the case.
''The issue at this hearing is what is in Mr. Weaver's best interests,'' Kadish said. ''What Mr. Pagan is trying to do is not in Mark Weaver's best interest'' but rather an effort to deny Weaver's right ''to determine his own medical treatment.''
Pagan stabbed Weaver on a Lewiston street in 1985, and the victim lapsed into a coma when the neck wounds prevented oxygen from reaching his brain. Weaver, who doctors say is in a ''permanent vegetative state'' with no hope of recovery, is under his mother's care at her Portland home.
Pagan, now 29, has been released from prison and now lives in Wellesley, Mass.
Deputy Attorney General Fernand LaRochelle, chief of the criminal division of the attorney general's office, confirmed in an interview Monday that Pagan could be charged with murder if Weaver dies, but declined to say whether any additional charge would be filed.
LaRochelle did say that a successful prosecution for murder would have to establish ''that there's a causal relationship between the behavior of Pagan and (Weaver's) death.''
Childs had already ruled that Weaver's feeding tube could be removed. That order is effective Thursday. After Pagan asked the judge to reverse himself, Childs said he would rule on the request Tuesday.
Kadash argued that Weaver, now 26, does not deserve to remain ''in this limbo of living death.'' He denied that Weaver is brain-dead and said that doctors have said he could remain alive for as long as 40 years.
Outside the court, Weaver's brother, Randall, insisted that Pagan ''has no right to intervene.''
''I really want my brother to get the peace he deserves,'' the brother added.
Sylvia Lane, Weaver's mother, said she would take the case to the state Supreme Court if necessary, but ''I don't think Mark should have to wait any longer.''
She said her son once said he never would want to be kept alive on a life- support system.
''This is not a particularly sympathetic case,'' Mullen conceded, acknowledging that Pagan's chances of a favorable ruling are ''not good.''