Kansas man sentenced to 195 months in prison for murder, after claiming it was an assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Vance Moulton died by asphyxiation in Sept 2014.

Ronald Eugene Heskett

Ronald Eugene Heskett

Judge Peggy Kittel sentenced Ronald Eugene Heskett to 195 months in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Vance Moulton who lived with cerebral palsy. Heskett, who was a care-giver for Moulton, claimed that the death was an assisted suicide.

I was interested in the case because Heskett claimed that the death was an assisted suicide. I was concerned that his claim of assisted suicide may result in a lesser sentence.

Judge Kittel was asked by Michael Warner, the defense attorney for Heskett, to apply a lesser sentence, but Kittel rejected that suggestion and applied the full 195 months of jail time to the conviction.

According to the Lawrence Journal World news:

During his September 2015 trial, prosecutors presented evidence to suggest that Heskett killed Moulton, who had cerebral palsy, for a financial motive, pointing to an approximate $13,000 in cash from government refunds missing from Moulton’s apartment.
They also looked at a series of expenditures Heskett made, shortly after the checks were cashed, on a 1972 Chevelle and numerous car parts. 
Heskett had claimed since Sept. 22, 2014, that the killing was an assisted suicide. He said Moulton, of Lawrence, had been persistently asking him to “shoot him” for six months to a year before Moulton’s death. Heskett testified at his trial that the missing $13,000 did indeed go to the car and car parts, but that it was as part of a plan with Moulton to “flip” the car and sell it for $25,000. 
At Heskett’s sentencing hearing Friday, Prosecutor Eve Kemple read letters from Moulton’s friends to the court. Moulton’s college roommate and friend, Keith Slimmer, said Moulton “had the greatest laugh to light up any room.” Another friend, Adam Burnett, said Moulton was a “role model” and he “genuinely cared about other people." 
Burnett, who uses a wheelchair, as Moulton did, said his friend's murder has shaped the way he views his own home-care attendants. 
"I cannot look at (my care-attendant) workers the same again," Burnett said. "We depend on them; we trust them. It bothers me knowing there is nothing he could have done to defend himself." 
After sentencing Heskett, Kittel acknowledged the judgment would be of little comfort to Moulton's loved ones. 
"No sentence ... will bring Mr. Moulton back," Kittel said. "People will leave here likely feeling as bad as they did when they arrived."

Justice has been done. Justice Kittel respected the life of Vance Moulton by not considering the medical condition of the victim when deciding on the punishment the man who killed him.

I published articles for everyday of the trial. The first day of the Heskett trial, the second day of the trial, the third day of the trialthe fourth day of the trial, the fifth day of the trial, the sixth day of the trial and the decision of the jury finding Heskett guilty of second-degree murder.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recognizes that if legalized, falsely claiming the death was an assisted suicide can become a defense for murder.

Kansas man found guilty of murder after claiming it was an assisted suicide

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The jury in Eudora Kansas found Ronald Heskett guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Vance Moulton, who lived with cerebral palsy. Heskett, who was a care-giver for Moulton, claimed that it was an assisted suicide. Heskett confessed to asphyxiating Moulton to death.

I was interested in this case because Heskett said that the death was an assisted suicide. It is possible to cause death and claim it was an assisted suicide, which tends to have a lesser sentence.

Last week I wrote about the first day of the Heskett murder trial, the second day of the trialthe third day of the trial, and the fourth day of the trial. This week I wrote about the fifth day of the trial, and the sixth day of the trial in Eudora Kansas.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, today the jury heard the closing arguments, and then deliberated for 4 hours before finding Heskett guilty of second-degree murder.

Link to the full article

Kansas murder trial, defense claims it was assisted suicide (Day 6)

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I wrote about the first day of the Heskett murder trial, the second day of the trial, and the third day of the trial, and the fourth day of the trial. This week I wrote about the fifth day of the trial and today's article concerns the sixth day of the trial in Eudora Kansas. This day focused on what Heskett's did with the money that went missing from Moulton's apartment.

The trial concerns the death of Vance Moulton (65), who was living with cerebral palsy. Ronald Eugene Heskett (49), who was Moulton's care-giver, was charged with first-degree murder, but he claims that the death was an assisted suicide.

The Lawrence Journal World reported:

Prosecutors in the case of Ronald Eugene Heskett have alleged that Heskett intentionally killed his disabled home-care client Vance “Van” Moulton, 65, of Lawrence, for financial reasons. Heskett, however, has maintained that the death was an assisted suicide. 
Heskett testified Tuesday that after persistent, highly emotional pleadings from Moulton to kill him on Sept. 12, 2014, Heskett ... asphyxiating him to death. Moulton had cerebral palsy and other serious health problems. 
The state has presented witnesses over the past week who said that Moulton before his death cashed $13,000 in government checks, which was never recovered in a search of his home. They showed recorded police interviews with Heskett in which Heskett denied entering any financial agreements with Moulton or taking his money, and they presented evidence of Heskett making uncharacteristically expensive purchases of a 1972 Chevelle and car parts. 
Throughout the trial, that $13,000 has been the crux of the state’s case. 
When Heskett ... testified Tuesday, he admitted the $13,000 had indeed been spent on the car — but only with the authority of Moulton as part of a plan to raise money to buy Moulton a wheelchair-accessible van.

Link to the full article

Kansas murder trial, defense claims it was assisted suicide (Day 5)

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I wrote about the first day of the Heskett murder trialthe second day of the trial, the third day of the trial, and the fourth day of the trial. This article concerns the fifth day of the Heskett murder trial in Eudora Kansas which focused on Heskett's defense.

The trial concerns the death of Vance Moulton (65), who was living with cerebral palsy. Ronald Eugene Heskett (49), who was Moulton's care-giver, was charged with first-degree murder, but he claims that the death was an assisted suicide.

The Lawrence Journal-World news reported last week that jurors listened to a police recording where Heskett admitted to causing Moulton's death by asphyxiation.

Ronald Heskett took the stand and spoke in his own defense. According to the Lawrence Journal-World news:

On Monday, Heskett told jurors about his friendship with Moulton, 66, indicating their closeness went further than a worker-client relationship. For example, Heskett said he’d visited Moulton at the hospital after kidney surgeries in the spring of 2014 without pay, and also cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for Moulton  
Heskett testified that Moulton’s outlook on life changed in the months leading up to his death. Heskett said Moulton grew increasingly concerned about his housing situation after an altercation between a former care attendant and his apartment manager. Moulton reportedly felt the manager had the care attendant fired, and Moulton had liked his care attendant. 

Link to the full article

Kansas murder trial, defense claims it was assisted suicide (Day 4)

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Three days ago I wrote about the first day of the Heskett murder trial and two days ago I wrote about the second day and yesterday I wrote about the third day of the trial in Eudora Kansas. The trial will continue on Monday.

The trial concerns the death of Vance Moulton (65), who was living with cerebral palsy. Moulton was allegedly murdered by Ronald Eugene Heskett (49), who was his care-giver. Heskett has been charged with first-degree murder, but he claims that the death was an assisted suicide.

The fourth day of the trial focused on the discussion between Heskett and fellow care-giver Scott Criqui. The Lawrence Journal-World news reported that:

Heskett called Criqui a short time later to report that he’d found Moulton in his apartment with a towel around his neck, dead of an apparent suicide by asphyxiation.  
... During Heskett’s short visit at Trinity, Heskett told Criqui that Moulton was suicidal, Criqui said. 
“(Heskett) brought up in a humorous fashion that Van wanted Ron to shoot him,” Criqui testified. 
Criqui said that he had never before heard of Moulton having suicidal tendencies, and if he had, appropriate action would be taken to have Moulton assessed for mental health issues. In a recorded police interview shown to jurors earlier this week, Heskett was seen telling investigators that he had told Criqui prior to Sept. 12, 2014, of Moulton’s suicidal comments. 
Criqui said he grew concerned hearing the light-hearted mention of Moulton’s suicidal comments,

The Lawrence Journal-world news continue by reporting on the prosecutions claim that Heskett killed Moulton based on financial gain.

Link to the full article

Kansas murder trial, defense claims it was assisted suicide (Day 3)

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Two days ago I wrote about the first day of the Heskett murder trial and yesterday I wrote about the second day of the trial in Eudora Kansas. The trial continues today.

The case concerns the death of Vance Moulton (65), who was living with cerebral palsy. Moulton was allegedly murdered by Ronald Eugene Heskett (49), who was his care-giver. Heskett has been charged with first-degree murder, but he claims that the death was an assisted suicide.

The third day of the murder trial focused on the second interview with the police where Heskett confessed to assisting the suicide of Moulton. The Lawrence Journal-World reported:

In Thursday’s video, which was recorded during a second police interview on Sept. 22, 2014, Lawrence Police Department detectives Mike Verbanic and Sam Harvey challenged Heskett’s original story. 
“We talked to the coroner. They had some doubts,” one of the detectives said. “This is not a typical case of suicide.” 
After the detectives mentioned the “doubts,” Heskett grew uncharacteristically quiet in the video. 
... 
But after some time, Heskett eventually incriminates himself, first by saying he rolled up the towel for Moulton because Moulton couldn’t do it himself. Heskett alleged this happened after Moulton asked Heskett to shoot him or smother him with a pillow that morning. 
“I told him I’d roll up the towel and I’d just leave it there, but I wasn’t going to do it,” Heskett told detectives. “He told me to leave and go do some errands. I didn’t think that he’d do it.” 
Later, more of the story came out. After further questioning, Heskett told detectives that Moulton told him that if Heskett was really his friend, Heskett would kill him. 
“(Moulton) said he just wanted to see his mom and be able to walk again,” Heskett said. “He said he wanted to show her what it was like not being crippled.” 
Then, Heskett told detectives he notice a towel on Moulton’s pillow, “flipped it around,” then wrapped it around Moulton’s neck and twisted it tight, giving the ends to Moulton to hold. 

Link to the full article

Kansas murder trial, defense claims it was assisted suicide (Day 2)

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday I wrote about the first day of the Ronald Heskett trial in Eudora Kansas.

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

According to the Lawrence Journal World news, day 2 of the trial focused on the defense, who claim that Heskett did not murder Moulton by asphyxiation. According to the news report:

Heskett said he called his boss to report Moulton had killed himself while Heskett was out running errands for him. Heskett told police that he arrived ... around 10 a.m. Sept. 12, 2014, and found Moulton dead of apparent asphyxiation ...
... Heskett told investigators of his daily routine with Moulton. At least four times a week, Heskett said he would tend to Moulton, cooking, dressing and bathing him. Each morning, Heskett said they’d watch the Top 40 Country Countdown together on TV and talk sports. Heskett said Moulton, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, would often kid Heskett about his baseball team, the Kansas City Royals. 
“We were pretty close,” Heskett said. “To me, he was like an older brother or an uncle or something.” 
But about six months prior to Moulton’s death, Heskett claimed, Moulton grew increasingly pessimistic, allegedly asking Heskett daily to “shoot him.” 
... “Every day he was upset about life.” 
Heskett claimed Moulton was especially irritated with his living arrangements ... that Moulton was angry with his landlord because Moulton felt the landlord caused a prior health care attendant to be fired. 

Link to the full article