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Minn. Supreme Court reverses assisted suicide verdict

March 19, 2014 at 6:22 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn., March 19 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed a nurse's conviction for encouraging suicide in a ruling that found part of the state law unconstitutional.

The court ruled Tuesday the part of the Minnesota law that bans assisted suicide is constitutional, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. But the justices said the trial of William Francis Melchert-Dinkel, 51, did not determine whether he crossed the line when he corresponded with potential suicides on the Internet.

Melchert-Dinkel faced a year in prison after his 2011 conviction but had been allowed to remain free pending appeal. The high court returned the case to the district court to determine if Melchert-Dinkel actively assisted suicides.

Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, jumped from a bridge and Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England, hanged himself after communicating with Melchert-Dinkel. In both cases, he posed online as a young suicidal woman.

Melchert-Dinkel's lawyer argues his client did not play the kind of active role that would be required for an assisted suicide because he was not in touch with the victims when they carried out the act.

Melchert-Dinkel was formerly employed as a practical nurse in a nursing home in Faribault, Minn. He has been stripped of his nursing license.

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