Top assisted suicide group convicted of helping woman kill herself: face $33,000 fine
May 15, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - A jury has convicted the assisted suicide group Final Exit Network (FEN) of assisting with the death of a Georgia woman in 2007.
“They go beyond simply advocating a person's right to choose,” Dakota County prosecutor Phil Prokopowicz told jurors this week during closing arguments in the trial against FEN.
"This is an organization that directly connects to its members and provides them with the knowledge and means to take their own life. And in the state of Minnesota, that is where the line is crossed."
The group's lawyer had claimed that members Larry Egbert and Jerry Dincin were present when Doreen Dunn died eight years ago, but they did not assist in her death. Dunn, a 57-year old mother, had dealt with chronic pain for a decade, and was depressed.
Doctors initially ruled her death one from natural causes, but a later investigation found she had been connected with FEN. The court found that Egbert and Dincin guided Dunn to use helium equipment for self-asphyxiation, and then removed the equipment from Dunn's home.
FEN faces a fine of up to $33,000 when sentenced later this year.
According to The Star Tribune, former FEN president Thomas Goodwin testified in court that FEN's goal was "to push the envelope but stay in the law as [they] knew it," even as the group's policies allowed for "exit services" to be implemented if someone was on a "dying trajectory" or "were suffering more than you could bear.”
Charges were initially filed in 2012 against FEN and four people who are accused of assisting with Dunn's suicide. Egbert, who was the group's medical director, has been granted immunity so he can testify against FEN.
Of the other three members who were at Dunn's home, Dincin has died, one is too ill to stand trial, and a fourth saw charges dismissed.
Assisted Suicide expert Alex Schadenberg wrote on his blog that the charges related to Dunn's death are not the first legal controversy for FEN.
"In Georgia, John Celmer, who was very depressed after recovering from cancer, died by assisted suicide with the assistance of the Final Exit Network," wrote Schadenberg. "Last year Larry Egbert, the medical director for the Final Exit Network, lost his medical license in Maryland."
This case marks the first time, however, FEN has actually been convicted.
Neither Dunn’s husband Mark nor the rest of her family knew she had been in contact with the assisted suicide nonprofit since early 2007, nor of her plan to commit suicide.