By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Two members of the Final Exit Network were prosecuted and faced a trial for allegedly assisting the suicide death of Doreen Dunn. Dunn lived with chronic pain and depression.
According to the La Crosse Tribune:
Dakota County prosecutor Elizabeth Swank told jurors in her opening statement that evidence will show two members of Final Exit Network went to Dunn's home in Apple Valley, helped her commit suicide, then removed equipment she used to inhale helium to asphyxiate herself so that it appeared she had died of natural causes.
Dunn's husband of 29 years arrived home on May 30, 2007, to find her dead on the couch. Swank said Dunn had a blanket pulled up to her neck with her hands folded on her chest.
Swank said despite Dunn's pain and depression, she had no life-threatening illness and her family was puzzled by her death. There were good things happening in her life: Her daughter who had been in Africa for about a year was coming home the next day and her son's fiancee was scheduled to give birth that week. However, her husband was also planning to move out, the prosecutor said.
Robert Rivas, the lawyer for the assisted suicide group, did not dispute that Jerry Dincin and Larry Egbert were present at Dunn's death, but he disputes that they assisted her suicide. The LaCrosse Tribune stated that:
To convict the group, the state must prove Dunn took her life with its help, either through Final Exit Network's speech or actions. Authorities didn't determine Dunn killed herself until a Georgia investigation linked the group to her death years later.
The Final Exit Network has been prosecuted in several controversial assisted suicide cases. In Georgia, John Celmer, who was very depressed after recovering from cancer, died by assisted suicide with the assistance of the Final Exit Network. Celmer's widow Susan Celmer, testified against the Final Exit Network. The Final Exit Network assists the suicide of people at the most vulnerable time of their life. Last year Larry Egbert, the medical director for the Final Exit Network, lost his medical license in Maryland.