Assisted Suicide Group Indicted
Thomas Goodwin of Kennesaw faces a felony charge in Minnesota after similar charges were dismissed against him in Georgia.
A Kennesaw man and three other members of the nonprofit Final Exit Network right-to-die group were indicted Friday for their alleged roles in the 2007 suicide of a Minnesota woman, reported Apple Valley Patch.
Thomas "Ted" Goodwin, 65, of Kennesaw and Punta Gorda, FL faces a felony charge of assisting 57-year-old Doreen Dunn to commit suicide and a gross misdemeanor charge of interference with a death scene.
Also indicted were Jerry Dincin, 81, of Highland Park, IL; Lawrence Egbert, 84, of Baltimore, MD; and Roberta Massey, 66, of Bear, DE.
In May 2007, Dunn placed a plastic bag attached to a helium tank over her head to end her life, reported Apple Valley Patch. She allegedly was in the presence of at least two volunteers from the Final Exit Network at the time.
An autopsy initially found that Dunn died of coronary artery disease. But Minnesota authorities reopened their investigation into her death in late 2009 after Georgia officials contacted them about a similar case.
Goodwin was arrested in Georgia in 2009 and accused of assisting in the suicide of a 58-year-old Cumming man, but the charges were dismissed against him and three others in February of this year. Georgia's Supreme Court cited free speech violations as the basis for its unanimous decision. At the time, Georgia law prohibited advertising assisted suicide services, but not the act of assisted suicide itself.
On May 1, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill making it a felony to help people take their own lives. Sponsored by Rep. Ed Setzler, HB 1114 was passed in response to the Supreme Court's February decision.
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The Minnesota indictments—based on laws that are “significantly different” from those in Georgia—came after an “extremely lengthy” investigation, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said Monday.
Georgia’s statute "only prohibited public advertising and public offers to assist another person in the commission of suicide,” Backstrom said. “Minnesota’s law includes both public and private advice, encouragement or assistance to a person contemplating suicide.
“What we’re alleging occurred here is private advice or encouragement. That’s unique to Minnesota.”