Kevorkian appeals to Supreme Court

July 18, 2002 at 2:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- Attorneys for the man known as "Dr. Death" have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn his second-degree murder conviction for the 1998 assisted suicide of a terminally ill suburban Detroit man.

The death of Lou Gehrig's disease victim Thomas Youk of Waterford Township was videotaped and later broadcast on CBS' "60 Minutes."

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, 74, who has admitted helping dozens of people to die, was convicted in March 1999 and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison. The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the conviction last year, and the state Supreme Court declined to review the case.

Kevorkian attorney Mayer Morganroth argues the retired pathologist's actions were justified because he was just administering pain-killing drugs in the face of unbearable pain.

The petition argues the appellate court acted in error in upholding the conviction because it is up to the legislature, not the court, to determine whether there is a constitutional right to be free of unbearable pain and suffering.

Morganroth also cited more traditional grounds for appeal, saying prosecutors penalized Kevorkian in the eyes of the jury by noting 14 times that he could have testified on his own behalf. The petition also claims Kevorkian was inadequately represented.

Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca, who pursued the charges against Kevorkian, said he expects the high court to reject the case. The high court ruled in 1997 there's no constitutional right to assisted suicide. A decision on whether the high court will take up the case is expected in the fall.

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