Assisted Suicide Gets Stranger

You may recall a very unusual murder case in New York last year. A well-known motivational speaker, Jeffrey Locker, hired a drug addict, Kenneth Minor, to stab him to death. Mr Minor was sentenced to 20 years to life. Further details of the bizarre story were revealed last week on the CBS show 48 Hours Mystery.

The intriguing feature of this drab story of murder, drug addiction and fraud was that Mr Minor insists that he was assisting in a suicide. Locker was deeply in debt and full of shame and wanted to end it all. But he also wanted his family to collect his life insurance -and they wouldn’t if he committed suicide. So he hired Minor to kill him. “I just happened to be the building he jumped off. It wasn’t murder,” Minor told CBS.

His lawyer, Dan Gotlin, is planning to appeal Minor’s sentence by making a more robust case for assisted suicide. It’s not legal in New York, but it is a lesser crime. The CBS journalist asks Gotlin, “So your view is that if Locker is intent on committing suicide, Minor can do anything. Can shoot him, hang him, stab him, throw him under a bus.” And Gotlin responds, “He can do all of those things according to the state… if he causes or aids the other person in committing suicide.”

Thought-provoking, isn’t it? After a successful assisted suicide, it’s hard to tell the difference between it and out-and-out murder. The only witness will often be the assistant. And with the help of a clever attorney, how many murders would be massaged into assisted suicides? Minor is not the first or only criminal to defend himself in this way. In fact, if you read the tabloids regularly, it is becoming depressingly common. Perhaps it’s one more reason to approach legalised assisted suicide very cautiously.

Michael Cook

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Michael Cook likes bad puns, bushwalking and black coffee. He did a BA at Harvard University in the US where it was good for networking, but moved to Sydney where it wasn’t. He also did a PhD on an obscure corner of Australian literature. He has worked as a book editor and magazine editor and has published articles in magazines and newspapers in the US, the UK and Australia.

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