A former nurse who was convicted of assisting suicide and attempting to assist suicide after going online and encouraging people to kill themselves will head to jail.
FOX 9 says William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, was ordered Wednesday to serve 178 days in jail after being convicted of encouraging 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario in Canada, to kill themselves.
Melchert-Dinkel was sentenced to nearly five years in prison, but he won't have to serve that time if he complies with the conditions of probation, the BBC reports. He must report to jail Oct. 24.
In court Wednesday, Melchert-Dinkel said he was sorry for his actions, according to the BBC. He does plan to appeal his conviction.
The sentencing comes after a long legal battle. Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in 2011, 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 Faribault Daily News reported. The court did uphold part of the law that makes it a crime to assist in someone’s suicide.
In August, Melchert-Dinkel’s case returned to court under the narrower law and Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville ruled in September 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. He was found guilty on a lesser charge of attempting to help her take her own life.
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.