KEVORKIAN PAROLED: ‘I’m Not Going To Do It Again’

By Kathleen Gray

Detroit Free Press, MI
Dec 14 2006

He says he’ll follow the law and be an advocate

A compassionate doctor to some, a ghoulish murderer to others, Jack
Kevorkian will, in less than six months, become something he hasn’t
been for more than eight years — a free man.

Kevorkian, a frail 78-year-old, was granted parole Wednesday by two
members of the Michigan Parole Board after he promised not to conduct
any more assisted suicides. He will be eligible for release June 1.

Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said he would not appeal.

"He has served his minimum term, and I did not object to his release,"
Gorcyca said. "I’m certainly not particularly surprised, just due to
his alleged health concerns."

Known as the assisted-suicide doctor and Dr. Death, Kevorkian claimed
to have helped at least 130 terminally or chronically ill people die
during the 1990s, though he told parole board chairman John Rubitschun
that he turned down six or seven prospective patients for every one
he helped.

He told Rubitschun he would push for the legalization of assisted
suicide after his release, but promised to not participate in any
form of assisted suicide or euthanasia.

"You can put any conditions you want on me. I’m not going to do it
again," Kevorkian said in a Dec. 7 hearing, according to an account
based on notes from the meeting. "Anything that will bring me back
to prison, I will avoid. Prison is not a place a live."

Kevorkian was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder in the Sept.

17, 1998, death of Thomas Youk, 52, of Waterford, a victim of the
debilitating Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The death was different from others in two ways. First, it was
videotaped and aired on the CBS show "60 Minutes." Second, Youk was
unable to press the button to deliver a fatal dose of drugs, and the
tape showed Kevorkian doing it for him, which provided prosecutors with
evidence that Kevorkian had stepped past the assisted-suicide line.

Kevorkian’s defiant approach brought physician-assisted suicide to the
national spotlight. In 1998, an Oregon law went into effect legalizing
the practice. But Michigan passed a law in 1999 banning it.

Kevorkian said he should have gone the legal route to advocate for
assisted suicide.

"If I had to do it again, I would have done it that way," he said.

Although Kevorkian won’t be eligible for release until June 1, his
attorney, Mayer Morganroth, said he’ll once again ask Gov. Jennifer
Granholm to release his client early from the Lakeland Correctional
Facility in Coldwater. The governor has denied requests to commute
the sentence four times.

"Certainly, it’s a relief; it’s a man’s life we’re talking about,"
Morganroth said. "The next thing we have to do is talk to the governor
so he doesn’t die in prison in the next six months."

There is little precedent for such an early release, said Corrections
Department spokesman Russ Marlan.

"Each time he’s done that, he’s said he has less than 12 months to
live," Marlan said. "I’ve personally witnessed that he appears to be
doing pretty well."

If his health hasn’t changed since the last evaluation this summer,
there would be no reason to release him early, Marlan said. Liz
Boyd, spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said Wednesday that
the governor would have no comment until a commutation request is
turned in.

According to Morganroth, Kevorkian suffers from hepatitis C and high
blood pressure. He takes insulin four times a day and has hardening
of the arteries. He recently fell, breaking two ribs and his wrist.

‘He was very grateful’

Terrence Youk, Thomas Youk’s brother, said Kevorkian never should
have been in prison.

"I was starting to believe that they would never let him out," Youk
said from his home in Montpelier, Vt. "Jack put himself on the line
many, many times. All he wanted to do was help people have a choice
at the end of their life when they don’t have any other choices."

Ruth and Sarah Holmes, a mother and daughter who have become friends
with and frequent visitors of Kevorkian, said he can’t wait to get
home for a turkey wrap, some pickled vegetables and some fresh fruit.

"He was very grateful that the process finally worked," said Ruth
Holmes of Bloomfield Hills, after talking to Kevorkian on Wednesday.

"He was not in great shape when he went in, and he’s had a rough

Sarah Holmes attended the parole hearing and told Rubitschun that few
people know the side of Kevorkian that she has seen — the musician,
the poet, the painter, the historian, the family man.

"I tried to add the human element of Jack Kevorkian," she said. "He
is the most honest man you would ever meet, when he gives his word,
he sticks with it."

But retired Waterford Police Chief John Dean, who helped investigate
the Youk case, said he would oppose Kevorkian’s parole.

"I’m convinced he’ll do it again to make a statement," he said.

Kevorkian’s first assisted suicide was in June 1990, when Janet Adkins,
a Portland, Ore., woman with Alzheimer’s disease, died in the back
of the pathologist’s rusty Volkswagen van. He helped dozens more
people die over the years in vans, hotel rooms, private homes and in
his Royal Oak apartment. Most of the people were women, and all the
deaths were in Michigan. Many of the patients were from other states.

The state revoked his medical license in 1991 after he had conducted
five assisted suicides. Without a license, he could no longer buy
some of the drugs he used, so he began using different techniques,
which included the use of carbon monoxide canisters.

He was acquitted of murder three times and got a mistrial declared
in a fourth case.

Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger defended Kevorkian in all of
the acquittals, at turns disparaging prosecutors and at other times
scolding his famous client for courtroom outbursts.

"He was, at the time he went to prison, perhaps one of the most famous
people in the world," Fieger said Wednesday. "Certainly, he moved
the issue of individuals’ rights not to suffer at the end of lives,
far greater than any person before him."

******************** The parole decision

Dr. Jack Kevorkian became eligible for parole on a 10- to 25-year
sentence of second-degree murder after serving more than eight years
in prison.

A three-person panel of the Michigan Parole Board considers each
eligible case. One member of the panel interviews the prisoner and
passes a recommendation to a second member. If they agree, a third
member of the panel isn’t consulted, and parole is granted.

In Kevorkian’s case, John Robitschun, chairman of the parole board,
interviewed Kevorkian on Dec. 7. He recommended that parole be
approved, and parole board member Miguel Berrios agreed. They announced
their decision Wednesday.

The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office can appeal the ruling to
the Oakland County Circuit Court, but Prosecutor David Gorcyca said
he won’t.

************************** How lives were ended

With $45 worth of materials in the 1980s, Dr. Jack Kevorkian created
what he called a suicide machine — a simple, effective device for
assisting people who wanted to end their lives.

The contraption was made of three bottles: One contained saline
solution, one held a sedative, and the last had lethal potassium

Kevorkian hooked people to the device and allowed them to press a
button, starting the intravenous flow from the bottles.

In 1991, after his medical license was revoked, he switched to a
canister filled with carbon monoxide because he was no longer able
to get potassium chloride.

Ruby Bailey *************************

Jack Kevorkian Age: 78

Claim to fame: Says he helped more than 130 people with various
illnesses end their lives.

Nickname: Dr. Death.

Personal: Son of Armenian immigrants, raised in Pontiac, never married,
no children.

Education: Graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School
in 1952. Trained as a pathologist.

Employment: Worked at Pontiac General, Detroit Receiving and several
California hospitals.

Hobbies: Music, painting, languages, poetry. Published a book,
"Glimericks," while in prison.

************************* Good for a laugh?

In the heyday of his assisted-suicide practice, Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s
name became part of the nation’s popular culture.

A popular paint pattern for fishing spoons used for salmon and trout
is called Kevorkian because it lures the fish to their deaths.

And Kevorkian was a favorite for David Letterman’s lists. Consider:

~U Nov. 18, 1996, ways O.J. Simpson is raising legal funds: Freelancing
for Dr. Kevorkian.

~U July 23, 1996, Dr. Kevorkian pickup lines: "My friends say I
look like Brad Pitt — but they probably just say that so I don’t
kill them."

~U Feb. 14, 1996, signs you’re dating a loser: "He has Dr. Kevorkian
on speed dial."

~U Dec. 1, 1995, other Ann Landers mistakes: Referred "Depressed in
Detroit" to Dr. Kevorkian.

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