A doctor whose device was used by a woman to commit suicide was charged today with murder.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian was charged in the death of Janet Adkins, 54, who traveled to suburban Detroit last June to use an apparatus he devised.
He hooked her up to the intravenous device, then she pushed a button that triggered a flow of coma- and death-inducing drugs into her bloodstream.
Adkins, of Portland, Ore., had been diagnosed a year earlier with Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain and nerve disorder.
“Janet Adkins was not terminally ill. She was not suffering any pain,” Oakland County Prosecutor Richard Thompson said today at a news conference to announce the murder charge. “For me not to charge Dr. Kevorkian would turn Oakland County into the suicide mecca of our nation.”
If convicted, Kevorkian could be sentenced to life in prison. He has contended that assisting suicide is not a crime under Michigan law. The state has no specific law against suicide or assisting it.
Adkins’ family said she wanted to end her life before her condition worsened. The device was used in Kevorkian’s van in a park about 40 miles north of Detroit.
Thompson had delayed filing charges, saying he was awaiting autopsy results to determine whether Adkins had a terminal illness.
Kevorkian, 63, a retired pathologist and advocate of doctor-assisted suicide, said Sunday that he expected to be charged in the case.
“How could he claim murder? I didn’t kill anybody,” Kevorkian said. “It wasn’t malicious disregard for life.”
Prosecutors obtained a temporary injunction against Kevorkian to keep him from using the machine, which they seized, and from aiding other suicides. A hearing had been set for Tuesday to determine whether Kevorkian could have his machine back.