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Kevorkian Takes Stand At His Assisted Suicide Trial

May 4, 1996

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ Dr. Jack Kevorkian took the stand in his third assisted-suicide trial Friday, angrily denouncing those who consider it a crime that he attended the suicides of two women in 1991.

``I never considered this a real trial with real law,″ Kevorkian said. ``Whoever would call this a real law, a real crime _ I have nothing but contempt for them.″

Kevorkian appeared calm on the stand _ a marked contrast to his outburst earlier Friday at two of his lawyers for their handling of witnesses in the case. While testifying, Kevorkian raised his voice only when he talked about the unwritten common law he is charged with violating.

Also Friday, the state Court of Appeals ruled that a homemade videotape of the two women whom Kevorkian is accused of helping die is inadmissible even though jurors have already seen the tape. In the tape one of women says, ``I’ve waited too long″ to die.

The appeals court said jurors must disregard the more than nine minutes they have seen, and ordered the defense not to mention the tape for the rest of the trial. The judges didn’t explain their ruling.

The court also said jurors could see a tape of the Australian version of ``60 Minutes″ in which Kevorkian said, ``I’m Dr. Death.″

Defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger had objected to jurors seeing the Australian tape, but later dropped his opposition and allowed the tape to be shown Friday before the appeals court ruled.

On the tape, Kevorkian told the interviewer that he should have tested his suicide machine, which was shown on the video, on animals first.

``In this country, it’s harder to experiment on dogs than on humans,″ he said on the tape.

Kevorkian is charged with two counts of common-law assisted suicide in the deaths of Sherry Miller, 43, of Roseville and Marjorie Wantz, 58, of Sodus. Wantz, who had severe pelvic pain, died of an injection of drugs. Miller had multiple sclerosis and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

On the videotape, Wantz said she had tried to take her own life by twice taking overdoses of pills and once breathing car exhaust for three hours.

``I’ve tried everything short of a gun,″ she said. ``I have tried loading a gun, but I don’t know how to load one.″

Miller told Kevorkian on the tape she had thought a long time about ending her life. She said she was no longer able to do anything for herself.

``I want to die,″ she said. ``This is not an overnight decision. I’ve waited too long.″

Kevorkian’s first two trials on similar charges ended in acquittals. If convicted this time, he faces up to five years in prison on each count.

He has contended that there is no law barring assisted suicide, although the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that assisted suicide is a felony under the state’s common law.

Earlier Friday, Kevorkian threw a tantrum in a courthouse hallway after a friend of Miller began to cry on the witness stand under cross-examination.

``It was against my wishes that they were put up on the stand,″ Kevorkian shouted at his attorneys, Geoffrey Fieger and Michael Schwartz. ``This is a political lynching, not a trial.″

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