Ex-nurse facing trial over suicides
Published 11/11/2010 | 01:02
A former nurse is expected to go on trial in the US for allegedly encouraging two people, including a British man, to kill themselves.
American William Melchert-Dinkel, 48, sought to have his case dismissed on the grounds that he was exercising his right to free speech, but a judge rejected his application.
Melchert-Dinkel, from Minnesota, was charged with two counts of aiding suicide in April, after the deaths of 32-year-old Mark Drybrough, from Coventry, and 18-year-old Canadian Nadia Kajouji.
After Mr Drybrough hanged himself in 2005, an email from Melchert-Dinkel was found on his computer which contained detailed advice on hanging.
Canadian investigators said Ms Kajouji had entered into a suicide pact with another chat room user called Cami, one of the names that Melchert-Dinkel used, before she drowned in a river in Ontario.
Judge Thomas Neuville disagreed with Melchert-Dinkel's claim that his email and internet correspondence involved protected speech. In a 21-page ruling, he said that speech inciting or encouraging suicide "falls outside the protection of the First Amendment".
Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and hanging, cruising the internet for potential victims, Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster said.
It is alleged he would then pose as a female nurse who would feign compassion, offer instructions on how to kill themselves and even enter into suicide pacts.
Mr Beaumaster has said Melchert-Dinkel admits talking to at least 15 to 20 people online about suicide and entering into fake suicide pacts with 10 of them, five of whom are believe to have died.
The prosecutor is preparing for a trial, with the next court hearing set for November 19, when a plea will be formally entered.