A jury of eight men and six women was seated Tuesday as Jack Kevorkian’s fourth assisted-suicide trial opened.
Kevorkian, 69, is charged with four felonies, including violating the state’s unwritten “common law” banning physician-assisted suicide for his role in the death of Loretta Peabody, who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Her body was cremated without an autopsy.
The prosecutor maintains Peabody died after an injection of potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
Kevorkian, who has admitted attending 45 deaths since 1990, also was charged with practicing medicine without a license. His Michigan license was suspended in 1991.
Kevorkian has been acquitted three times on assisted-suicide charges, once in 1994 and twice in 1996 in Detroit-area trials.
Ionia County Circuit Judge Charles Miel set a hearing for this morning on requests from Kevorkian attorney Geoffrey Fieger for a venue change and permission to excuse the assisted-suicide crusader from attending the proceeding.
Kevorkian was not present at jury selection.
Fieger argued for the change of venue because, he said, Kevorkian could not get a fair trial in the conservative, west-central Michigan town of 7,000 because of excessive publicity.
Questioning of jurors was held in the Ionia Theatre, the only place in town large enough to hold the jury pool of about 150 people.
The judge presided from a stage with a red velvet curtain. Soda and popcorn were sold in the lobby.
Miel excused more than 40 potential jurors, including those who said they had strong feelings for or against assisted suicide.
One man who was excused was among of 15 local doctors who had signed an ad in the local newspaper opposing assisted suicide.
About 15 people protesting assisted suicide demonstrated outside the theater. Most of them are members of Not Dead Yet, an organization of disabled people.