Judge Drops Suicide-Device Murder Case

From Associated Press

A judge today threw out a murder charge against Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the death of an Alzheimer’s disease patient who used his so-called suicide machine to take her life.

Kevorkian turned and shook hands with a defense attorney after Clarkston District Judge Gerald McNally dismissed a first-degree murder charge in the death of Janet Adkins.

McNally said prosecutors failed to prove Kevorkian planned and carried out Adkins’ death June 4, adding that she, not Kevorkian, caused the death.

McNally, noting Michigan has no specific law against assisting suicide, said it is up to the Legislature to clarify state law.


Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michael Modelski said he would appeal.

McNally’s ruling came after a two-day preliminary hearing to determine whether Kevorkian, of suburban Royal Oak, should stand trial. An outspoken advocate of the concept of doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, Kevorkian has acknowledged hooking up Adkins to his machine, which put a lethal combination of drugs into her bloodstream after she pushed a button.

The only alternatives available to the judge today were allowing the first-degree murder charge to go to trial or throwing it out. He could not substitute a lesser charge.

On Wednesday, attorneys introduced a suicide note purportedly signed by Adkins, saying she freely chose to have Kevorkian help her commit suicide before she deteriorated further from Alzheimer’s.

“This is a decision taken in a normal state of mind and is freely considered,” the note read. “I have Alzheimer’s disease and I don’t want it to progress any further. I don’t want to put myself or my family through any more of this terrible disease.”

Adkins, 54, of Portland, Ore., died shortly after noon June 4. Later that day, Kevorkian let police search his van and seize his device before offering a statement about his role in Adkins’ death.