Kevorkian awaits sentence after conviction of second-degree murder
March 27, 1999
PONTIAC, Michigan (CNN) -- Dr. Jack Kevorkian is free on bond Saturday after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder Friday in the death of a terminally ill man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.
An Oakland County jury deliberated more than two days before finding him responsible in the death of 52- year-old Thomas Youk.
The assisted suicide advocate was also found guilty of delivering the illegal substance that he fatally injected Youk with on September 17. He showed no emotion when the verdicts were read.
Kevorkian, 70, is scheduled for sentencing April 14. Although he escaped a mandatory life sentence that goes with a first-degree murder conviction, he still faces a minimum of 10 to 25 years and a maximum life term in prison.
Oakland County Circuit Judge Jessica Cooper told Kevorkian he was free on bond on the condition he refrain from assisting in or being present at any suicides during that time.
Kevorkian, who last November said he would starve himself to death in jail, plans to appeal the verdict, which could take years.
"This case does resolve the issue of whether a jury of Kevorkian's peers are willing to allow him to commit the crimes of second-degree murder and the delivery of a controlled substance under the guise of pain management. They were not," said Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca.
"The verdict is proof that our first commitment as a nation is to the protection of human life," he said.
Gorcyca said he and his family have been threatened since charges were brought against Kevorkian.
Defense Attorney David Gorosh, relegated to the role of an adviser for most of the proceedings, called Kevorkian "a hero."
"Dr. Kevorkian is certainly no murderer. We believe it's certainly unjust to equate an act of compassion to an act of murder," he said.
A tape of the incident was aired on the CBS program "60 Minutes" and shown to the jury in the trial.
Kevorkian, serving as his own attorney through most of the trial, did not testify or call any witnesses for the defense.
Cooper rejected a defense request to allow testimony from Youk's widow and brother about his deteriorating health, painful condition and consent to Kevorkian's plan.
During closing arguments, Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski called Kevorkian a "medical hit man in the night with his bag of poison."
Kevorkian repeatedly acknowledged that his action caused death but denied that it was a "killing," as Skrzynski told the jury.
"I intended to do my duty. Not murder," said Kevorkian, who likened his efforts to those of civil rights activists who fought against what they considered immoral laws.
Kevorkian has admitted to being present at 130 deaths since 1990. He was tried four times on assisted suicide charges. Three proceedings ended in acquittals and a fourth in a mistrial.
The death in this case, which resulted in the first murder charges against him, was the first time Kevorkian said he administered the fatal injection himself.
Jury deliberates in Kevorkian murder trial
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