Kansas murder trial, defense claims assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alec Schadeneberg

Alec Schadeneberg

The murder trial for Ronald Eugene Heskett (49), in Eudora Kansas began yesterday.

The case concerns the death of Vance Moulton (65), who was living with cerebral palsy. Heskett, who was a care-giver for Moulton, has been charged with first-degree murder. Heskett claims that the death was an assisted suicide.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World:

Prosecutor Eve Kemple stated that Heskett suffocated Moulton for financial gain. 
Moulton, of Lawrence, had cerebral palsy, which restricted his mobility, Douglas County Coroner Erik Mitchell testified Tuesday. Mitchell said he ruled Moulton’s death a homicide by asphyxiation. 
... Moulton was seen hours after he was pronounced dead the morning of Sept. 12, 2014, lying on his right side with a purple towel twisted around his neck, the ends extending behind him. 
... Mitchell said he also found petechiae, or dot-like hemorrhages in Moulton’s face and eyelids, plus a rug burn-type scrape beneath his chin. Mitchell said the petechiae and abrasion were consistent with being suffocated with a towel. 
Mitchell said that because of Moulton’s limited mobility — he had control of just his right arm — it would not be possible for Moulton to have twisted the towel tight enough to asphyxiate himself.

Lawrence police officer, Dan Ashley, who did the investigation, also took the stand. Ashley stated that Heskett claimed that Moulton had a history of depression, but Kemple stated that evidence would show that Moulton was not taking anti-depressants.

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