FARIBAULT — William Francis Melchert-Dinkel has been convicted under a Minnesota law which bans assisted suicide. A former Faribault nurse who went online and urged people to commit suicide while he watched, Melchert-Dinkel was found guilty of assisting the suicide of an English man and of attempting to assist in the suicide of a Canadian woman. Rice Co. District Court Judge Tom Neuville made his ruling public yesterday after hearing arguments from both sides four weeks ago.
"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."
The victims include 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario. Drybrough hanged himself in his home in 2005. Kajouji jumped into a frozen river and drowned in 2008.
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 admitted he entered into about 10 suicide pacts and believed five killed themselves.
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 Minnesota 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 Drybrough and Kajouji.
"Whatever their reasons, people like Melchert-Dinkel who prey on the vulnerable need to be prevented from doing so," Fischbach said. "The law is in place to protect citizens from criminals like Melchert-Dinkel who target those in need of compassion and help."
Melchert-Dinkel will be sentenced on Oct. 15. He plans to appeal his conviction.