The following news release was issued on Aug. 8.
FARIBAULT — Closing arguments were heard today in the case of a former Faribault nurse who went online and urged people to commit suicide while he watched. William Francis Melchert-Dinkel has been charged under Minnesota's law which bans assisted suicide. Rice Co. District Court Judge Tom Neuville heard half-hour arguments from each side this morning and will rule on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted in two suicides.
"This case exposes the abhorrence of assisted suicide," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "Vulnerable citizens need protections, including the medical and mental health care they need to live. It is illegal to assist someone in committing suicide."
Melchert-Dinkel, a Faribault ex-nurse, is charged with assisting two vulnerable people to commit suicide. He posed as a depressed female nurse in online chat rooms using several names. He claimed that no treatment had helped ease his suffering and entered into suicide pacts with his victims. He urged them to turn on webcams as they committed suicide so that they would not be alone. He had no intention of killing himself but secretly wanted to watch them die.
The victims include 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario, and 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England. Kajouji jumped into a frozen river and drowned in 2008. Drybrough hanged himself in his home in 2005.
Melchert-Dinkel encouraged his victims to hang themselves, and he gave them details about how to do it. He boasted online about watching the death of Drybrough. Melchert-Dinkel may have had contact with 50 other suicidal persons online.
Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in 2011 under Minnesota Statutes section 609.215, subdivision 1, which provides criminal penalties for anyone who "advises, encourages or assists" suicide. MCCL was instrumental in the passage of this protective law in 1992. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in State v. Melchert-Dinkel that "advising" or "encouraging" suicide is protected speech under the First Amendment. The case was remanded to the lower court to rule on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted in the suicides of Kajouji and Drybrough.
"Minnesota's law prohibiting assisted suicide has been upheld," Fischbach said. "Assisting individuals in killing themselves is illegal in Minnesota. The law is in place to protect citizens from criminals like Melchert-Dinkel who prey upon those in need of compassion and help."
Deborah Chevalier, the mother of Nadia Kajouji, has created a website dedicated to raising awareness at www.nadiaslight.ca.