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Judge will hear Internet suicide case

Feb. 24, 2011 at 8:06 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A Minnesota judge will determine if a former nurse is guilty of using the Internet to help two people commit suicide, officials said.

William Melchert-Dinkel of Faribault has agreed to let a judge determine if he violated a Minnesota law against aiding suicide, Minnesota Public Radio reported Thursday.

The law applies to anyone who "intentionally advises, encourages or assists" suicide and provides for a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Melchert-Dinkel, 48, allegedly helped two people commit suicide five years ago -- one a Canadian citizen, the other lived in England. His attorney has argued free-speech rights protected his client's actions.

Attorney Terry Watkins also questioned whether courts have jurisdiction over the case because the suicides happened in other countries.

A judge has denied Watkins motions for dismissal based on both pre-trial arguments. The judge has 20 days to issue a ruling.

The trial starts Thursday in Rice County.

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