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Kevorkian Case: 'Dr. Death' on trial

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Editor's Note: As part of's new Crime section, we are archiving some of the most interesting content from This story was first published in 1998.

(Court TV) -- Dr. Jack Kevorkian -- dubbed "Dr. Death" by the media -- may have seemed unstoppable in his campaign to assist the terminally ill patients he claims sought his help to end their lives. He made it through three acquittals and a mistrial in his quest to help at least 130 people commit suicide.

But the 73-year-old doctor's luck eventually ran out. In 1999, a Michigan jury convicted him of second-degree murder for assisting Thomas Youk, a 53-year-old stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, to die by lethal injection.

Michigan authorities initially did not charge Kevorkian for the September 1998 lethal injection. It wasn't until Kevorkian gave a video capturing the suicide -- and of himself practically daring prosecutors to charge him -- that he found himself facing criminal charges.

During the trial, the eccentric physician represented himself. He is currently serving a 10- to 25-year sentence for the murder conviction, in addition to a concurrent three- to seven-year term for using a controlled substance during the assisted suicide.

Youk's family, including his widow and brother, have been supportive of Kevorkian during and even after the trial. Though Youk's relatives were willing to take the stand on his behalf, the judge would not permit them to testify about Youk's suffering, prompting Kevorkian to rest his case without calling a single witness.

When Kevorkian was awarded a humanitarian award after his imprisonment, Youk's relatives attended the awards ceremony and accepted on his behalf.

Kevorkian has appealed his conviction and has even promised to stop assisting with suicides if released on bond while his appeal is pending. After the bid was denied by five separate state judges, Kevorkian said this month that he hopes a federal court will permit him to post bond.

If not, the doctor is eligible for parole in 2007. Kevorkian's medical license in Michigan and California was revoked in the early 1990s. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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