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Supreme Court rejects Kevorkian’s appeal

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by assisted-suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian Nov. 1, shutting down his attempts to convince the judiciary to overturn a murder conviction that resulted in a prison sentence of 10 to 25 years.

The high court announced without comment it would not review Kevorkian v. Warren on appeal from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kevorkian contended he was ineffectively represented in his 1999 trial, but a lower court and the Sixth Circuit rejected his argument. The Supreme Court also refused to accept his appeal two years ago in which he argued the prosecution in his case was unconstitutional, according to The Daily Oakland Press in Michigan.

Kevorkian, who has served five years of his sentence, has one hope remaining for early release -– a pardon or commutation from Gov. Jennifer Granholm, The Daily Press reported.

Kevorkian was the face of the assisted-suicide movement during the 1990s. He escaped conviction in four trials, though he said he helped more than 130 people take their own lives through the use of his “suicide machine,” which enabled a person who requested death to administer the legal drugs.

An Oakland County, Mich., court found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Thomas Youk, 52, who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. In September 1998, Kevorkian injected a lethal dose of drugs into Youk, an act he acknowledged as euthanasia rather than assisted suicide. A home video of the fatal injection was later telecast on the CBS news program “60 Minutes.”

Kevorkian, 76, has served five years in prison and will be eligible for parole in June 2007, The Daily Press reported.

The retired Michigan pathologist became an often-unwelcome poster boy for a movement seeking to gain legalization of physician-assisted suicide. Oregon remains the only state to have legalized assisted suicide. The practice went into effect there in 1997.

The Supreme Court has permitted assisted suicide to be handled by the states. In 1997, the high court ruled states could ban assisted suicide, but the justices did not block states from legalizing it.

The Southern Baptist Convention adopted resolutions condemning assisted suicide and/or euthanasia at its 1992, 1996 and 2001 meetings.

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