Appeals Court hears arguments in bid to reopen '99 murder case
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
By Ronald J. Hansen / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- Jack Kevorkian's 1999
murder trial was so unfair that his attorney never questioned whether the
patient died from Kevorkian's drugs or from his terminal illness, a lawyer
argued Tuesda y.
More than 2 1/2 years after his conviction for fatally injecting Thomas Youk, Kevorkian's lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, asked three judges from the Michigan Court of Appeals to grant the assisted-suicide advocate a new trial.
Morganroth argued that Kevorkian's trial was tainted by a lawyer who failed to help Kevorkian defend himself on the murder charge and that a prosecutor unfairly pointed out that Kevorkian never testified in the case.
But Anica Letica, an Oakland County assistant prosecutor, said Kevorkian, 73, insisted on representing himself rather than accept legal counsel.
"He wanted a public forum for acceptance of active euthanasia," she told the judges.
Youk, a Waterford Township resident, was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
In a September 1998 videotaped procedure later broadcast on the CBS program 60 Minutes, Kevorkian injected the man with potassium chloride, a poison that would stop the heart.
Morganroth told the judges that it appeared Youk might have died from his medical condition rather than the injection, but no one challenged that during the trial.
But at least one of the judges seemed to reject the idea that something other than Kevorkian's efforts killed Youk.
Judge William C. Whitbeck noted that Kevorkian candidly explained during the trial that he didn't want any legal assistance.
Kevorkian was not present for Tuesday's hearing and is serving a 10-year to 25-year prison term.
You can reach Ronald J. Hansen at (313) 222-2019 or firstname.lastname@example.org.