Nearly nine years after Jack Kevorkian last challenged medical convention, taunted legal authorities and sought to rewrite the rules on assisted suicide, he walked out of prison quietly this morning.
Looking no more gaunt than in the 1990s when he gained international fame as “Dr. Death”, Dr. Kevorkian climbed into a van along with his lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace and three supporters and quickly left the Lakeland Correctional Facility to begin two years of supervised release. It was a low-key start for a man whose theatrics and sharp rhetoric once commanded attention to the nation’s death-rights movement.
Now 79 and stricken with an array of health problems himself, Kevorkian said nothing today about his conviction for second-degree murder in the intentional killing of a terminally ill Waterford Township man, nor of his plans for the future.
Dr. Kevorkian did not meet with reporters before quickly leaving. He did, however, speak briefly with pool reporters inside the prison.
“It’s wonderful. It’s one of the high points of life,” Dr. Kevorkian said in a quiet voice. He also touched his heart and drew an exaggerated smile on his face.
Dr. Kevorkian met with Mr. Morganroth before his release as a horde of reporters from local and national media outlets lingered outside the prison for hours.
Mr. Morganroth had brought a suit for Dr. Kevorkian, but he chose to leave prison in his customary blue cardigan sweater.
As usual, Dr. Kevorkian’s release drew protests from those who opposed the 130 deaths he claimed to have assisted and was welcomed by those who viewed his actions as merciful and moral.
“For 10 years, Jack Kevorkian’s actions resembled those of a pathological serial killer,” the Archdiocese of Detroit said in a statement. “It will be truly regrettable if he’s now treated as a celebrity parolee instead of the convicted murderer he is.”
“I’m very glad he’s being released,” said Derek Humphrey, the founder of The Hemlock Society, an organization since renamed that supports death rights. “I think he was rightly convicted according to law. But morally I think it was a bad conviction.”
Dr. Kevorkian has been in prison since his 1999 conviction in the death a year earlier of Thomas Youk, who was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, an incurable disorder that left Mr. Youk unable to kill himself. Unlike the other deaths Dr. Kevorkian aided, in the Youk case Dr. Kevorkian actively administered lethal chemicals in a procedure he videotaped; it was broadcast on “60 Minutes.”
After years of acquittals in other deaths, Dr. Kevorkian sought to use the Youk case to draw new lines for physician-assisted suicide. He defended himself on the murder charges and was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison after his conviction.
In the years since, Dr. Kevorkian’s appeals failed and requests to commute his sentence went nowhere. Last year, the state’s parole board granted him an early release.
As a condition of his parole, Dr. Kevorkian is barred from assisting suicides, though he is permitted to express his views on the subject. Mr. Morganroth estimates Dr. Kevorkian could command as much as $100,000 in speaker fees. State officials have said they could take at least some of the money to help recoup the housing and medical costs of Dr. Kevorkian’s eight years behind bars.
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (N.Hod) after a June 1, 2007 article by Ronald Hansen in The Detroit News