Assisted Suicide Crusader Jack Kevorkian Denied Parole for Fourth Time

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 27, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Assisted Suicide Crusader Jack Kevorkian Denied Parole for Fourth Time

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 27, 2006

Detroit, MI ( — The Michigan Parole Board has again rejected a request from assisted suicide crusader Jack Kevorkian to be paroled. The activist hoped the parole board would commute his second-degree murder conviction in the euthanasia death of a patient who has Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The decision marks the fourth consecutive year the parole board has denied Kevorkian’s request, even though his attorney claims he has less than a year to live.

Previous requests for commutation have gone to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but a spokeswoman for the governor told the Associated Press that won’t happen with this denial because the parole board essentially upheld its previous decision rather than deciding on a revised parole request.

Mayer Morganroth, Kevorkian’s lawyer, says the former coroner’s medical condition has worsened and that his personal doctor told him he would be surprised if Kevorkian survived another year.

"Today, Dr. Kevorkian weighs a mere 113 pounds," Morganroth explained. "He is suffering from active Hepatitis C, which is attacking his major organs and cannot be treated in prison. His liver enzymes are dangerously high, and his blood sugar is four times normal. On top of all that, it’s been determined that he has become diabetic."

"Kevorkian has served seven plus years in prison," Morganroth said in response to the decision. "He’s 78 years old and is now asking consideration from the Governor and Parole board. I think he’s more than paid the price."

Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan indicated prisoners can only be granted a medical release if doctors determine they have less than a year to live. A parole board health review determined that wasn’t the case but Marlan did not release more details on it.

Kevorkian was convicted in April 1999 of killing Thomas Youk, a Detroit-area man with Lou Gehrig’s disease whose death was shown on the CBS television show "60 Minutes." He argued the murder was a euthanasia or mercy killing, but was sentenced for 10 to 25 years in prison.

He is not officially eligible for parole until 2007.

Assisted suicide is not legal in Michigan and Kevorkian would not be able to avail himself of the method of death he used to kill the more than 150 people he claims to have aided in ending their lives.

Kevorkian told MSNBC in September he would travel and visit family if granted parole, but he insisted he would not practice assisted suicide or encourages others to do so.

Reporters Rita Cosby asked him if he regretted the assisted suicide deaths of more than 130 people, Kevorkian replied, "Well, I do a little."

Kevorkian also told Cosby that, had Terri Schiavo been presented to him 10 years ago, he would have taken her on as another assisted suicide case.

Michigan authors and Kevorkian friends Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie say they have been helping Kevorkian to prepare a 300-page manuscript, tentatively titled "The Life of Dr. Death." Kevorkian has been shopping it around to publishers.

Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple and producer Steve Jones plan to begin filming a movie version in Michigan later this year.

Jones says Oscar winner Ben Kingsley would head the short list of people he would like to play the imprisoned coroner. Kingsley is a three time Oscar nominee who won the award for best actor in 1982 for his role in the film Gandhi.