Skip to main content

Faribault assisted suicide case back in court, under narrower law

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A Faribault man convicted three years ago of helping people kill themselves is back in court to face the same charges – this time under a narrower law.

The Associated Press reports prosecutors argued in a court hearing Friday that William Melchert-Dinkel not only encouraged two people to commit suicide, he also assisted them in doing so.

The distinction became important after the Minnesota Supreme Court this spring agreed with Melchert-Dinkel's argument that encouraging suicide is a form of free speech. The court overturned his 2011 conviction, ruling that Minnesota's law was too broad.

While the part of the law prohibiting people from encouraging suicide was ruled unconstitutional, assisting someone in carrying out their suicide remained illegal under the March ruling.

The allegations

As the Faribault Daily News reports, Melchert-Dinkel is a former licensed practical nurse at a Faribault nursing home. Prosecutors say he sought out suicidal people in online chat rooms, encouraged them to kill themselves, and coached them on how to do so.

The case involves the deaths of 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, who hung himself in 2005, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario in Canada, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008.

The Daily News says Assistant County Attorney Terrence Swihart argued in court Friday that the advice Melchert-Dinkel provided met Minnesota's newly-clarified definition of assisting someone in a suicide:

“His intent was to help them so they would not fail in their attempts to commit suicide. Mr. Melchert-Dinkel provided specific information on how to kill yourself. He provided suicide methods. It went beyond moral viewpoint or expressing opinion," Swihart said.

Evidence introduced in his original trial showed Melchert-Dinkel advised Drybrough to hang himself instead of taking an overdose, which the former nurse said was an unreliable method. In Kajouji's case, Melchert-Dinkel posed as a female nurse who was also suicidal.

In its account the Daily News says defense attorney Terry Watkins maintained that while Melchert-Dinkel encouraged the suicides, he had no role in carrying them out. "Try as we might, the evidence just isn’t there. Advising is not prohibited. Pure speech is not prohibited, ” he said.

Rice County District Court Judge Thomas Neuville, who also heard the original case, will consider Friday's arguments in light of the revised law and is expected to issue a ruling within 30 days, the AP says.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-12-09 at 9.45.35 AM

Boys aged 12 and 14 arrested after fleeing police in stolen car

The two boys were charged with felony fleeing in a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property.

JackknifedSemiI35

Heavy snow brings multiple crashes to southern Minnesota roads

The snowfall is expected to end sometime Friday morning.

Cheetah Pizza

Edina pizza joint quietly closes after 38 years

The restaurant was located at 5125 Edina Industrial Blvd.

internet

Internet providers to get $100M to expand coverage across Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz says it's the largest single investment in broadband infrastructure in the state's history.

Forest Lake High School

Charges: Man left knife tucked in bathroom stall inside high school

The 42-year-old entered the bathroom Tuesday morning and left 15 minutes later.

318932855_566492482149686_9036958628999185261_n

Twin Cities liquor store worker offers shoes off her feet to unhoused man

The man asked for boxes to use as makeshift shoes before the woman offered hers.

Screen Shot 2022-12-08 at 2.19.37 PM

St. Paul PD releases footage showing fatal police shooting of Howard Johnson

The 24-year-old died after being shot by a St. Paul officer Monday night.

318945683_10161683635994714_4236667683357316937_n

22 dogs taken in by Animal Humane Society from shuttered breeder

The dogs were taken in after a report stated there were too many on a single property.

COVER

Latest on the 2 snowstorms set to impact Minnesota

The first arrives Thursday night into Friday before a bigger system comes next week.

Related