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Former nurse convicted of assisting suicide after long legal battle

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A former nurse who admitted to going online and encouraging people to kill themselves has been convicted of assisting in the suicide of a British man and attempting to assist in the suicide of a Canadian woman, according to a ruling Tuesday in Rice County District Court.

William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, was convicted in 2011 of encouraging 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario in Canada, to kill themselves.

But last March the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the convictions, saying part of the state law that makes it illegal to encourage suicide was unconstitutional. The court did uphold part of the law that makes it a crime to assist in someone's suicide.

Last month, Melchert-Dinkel's case returned to court under the narrower law and Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville ruled Tuesday that the state proved Melchert-Dinkel assisted in Drybrough's suicide, but the state failed to prove Melchert-Dinkel's assistance caused the suicide of Kajouji, The Associated Press reports. He was found guilty on a lesser charge of attempting to help her take her own life.

Neuville, who was the same judge who convicted Melchert-Dinkel in 2011, has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 15.

Melchert-Dinkel worked as a licensed practical nurse in a nursing home. He was accused of seeking out depressed people in online suicide chat rooms and offering instructions on how they could kill themselves, and he lost his license as a result of the allegations.

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.

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