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Nurse Convicted in Mercy Killing Attempt

April 13, 1985

MEDIA, Pa. (AP) _ A nurse convicted of trying to end the life of her terminally ill mother in a mercy killing ″was caught in the act″ of trying to administer a lethal chemical, the prosecutor said.

A jury on Friday found Jane K. Maraska, 58, guilty of the attempted murder of her 88-year-old mother, Viola Keiper, on Sept. 23, by trying to give the dying woman a fatal enema of potassium chloride.

Ms. Maraska was interrupted by a supervisor at a nursing home where Mrs. Keiper was staying until she died of natural causes Oct. 12.

The supervisor, Pat Toland, testified that she discovered Ms. Maraska bent over her mother and then found a syringe and the potassium chloride in Ms. Maraska’s handbag.

When asked whether she had given her mother anything, according to Ms. Toland, Ms. Maraska said, ″No, I wanted to. I really wanted to, but I couldn’t. I swear I couldn’t.″

Her attorney, Richard Colden Jr., argued that the statement showed Mrs. Maraska ″did not have the intent to commit the crime.″

But Assistant District Attorney Doug Roger called it a self-serving statement by a woman who ″was caught in the act just as a child is caught with his hand in the cookie jar.″

Ms. Maraska ″was of a mind to put her mother out of her misery,″ Roger said, telling the jurors they had to decide ″whether this defendant had a right to take the life of her own mother.″

Ms. Maraska, of Upper Darby, will remain free on her own recognizance pending post-trial motions. Golden said he would appeal.

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