The Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the case of a former Minnesota nurse accused of encouraging two people to commit suicide.
William Melchert-Dinkel was convicted of two counts of aiding suicide. He challenged the law used to convict him arguing he was offering support to the victims. Melchert-Dinkel first contacted the two people through online chat rooms.
His attorney has argued that the law is too broad. It states that anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life” is guilty of a crime.
Melchert-Dinkel, 51, was convicted of aiding the suicides of two people: Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England and Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008.
He also argued that he had no influence on either person’s actions. Prosecutors say he played a role in the deaths, going so far as to give the two people directions on how to take their lives.
He admitted to chatting online with 20 people and entering in to fake suicide pacts with as many as 10.
In July 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the state’s assisted suicide law was constitutional, and that Melchert-Dinkel’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment.