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Constitutional Law

Minn. Appeals Court OKs Conviction of ‘Morbid, Predatory’ Ex-Nurse Who Pushed Suicide in Web Chats

Posted Jul 17, 2012 3:08 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld the felony conviction of a former nurse who was found guilty of violating a state law against assisting suicide by—while posing as a young woman who also was suicidal—urging individuals in Canada and England, in Internet chats, to do away with themselves.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides no protection for William Melchert-Dinkel's "morbid, predatory" behavior, the court said in a scathing Tuesday opinion comparing his crime to false advertisement, slander and perjury, the Star Tribune reports.

Melchert-Dinkel, who in fact is a married father of four, admitted to investigators he had no intention of killing himself even as he entered into multiple online suicide pacts, the newspaper recounts.

"Put in its true light, Melchert-Dinkel hunted emotionally vulnerable persons—pitiable victims of obvious mental illness who stood precariously on the edge of death," wrote Judge Kevin Ross in the court's opinion. "Then, veiled behind a fictitious identity and deceitful words of supposed care and concern and empathy and warmth, he pushed."

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Nurse Found Guilty of Encouraging Suicide in Online Chats"

ABAJournal.com: "Nurse Who Encouraged Suicides in Online Chats Sentenced to Less than a Year in Jail"

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