Feed on

HASTINGS, Minnesota, April 27, 2015 — The long-awaited trial of Final Exit Network and four of its volunteer Exit Guides has been whittled down to a trial of only the corporation, Final Exit Network, Inc., and none of the Exit Guides.

In 2013 the trial court dismissed all the charges against one of the defendants, former Final Exit Network President Ted Goodwin. Also in 2013, another defendant and former president, Jerry Dincin, died.

Last week the Dakota County District Judge Christian S. Wilton granted a continuance to former case coordinator Roberta Massey for health reasons. Given her conditions, it is doubtful she will ever be forced to stand trial.

The trial of the remaining defendants, the corporation and the Network’s former medical director, Dr. Larry Egbert of Baltimore, was scheduled to begin on Monday, May 4.

But during a telephone conference call hearing on April 27 (with lawyers in Atlanta, Tallahassee, Los Angeles and Hastings), the District Attorney asked the judge to “sever” the trials

of Dr. Egbert and Final Exit Network. The DA asked the court to immunize Dr. Egbert, 87, and require him to testify at the trial of the Network, then to stand trial afterward before a different jury.

Given his Fifth Amendment right not to be compelled to incriminate himself, Dr. Egbert’s testimony at the Final Exit Network trial could not be used against him subsequently at his own trial. Depending on events that will unfold in the next few weeks, it is possible the State will never be able to put Dr. Egbert on trial. “We consider this severance a huge victory,” said the Network’s general counsel, Robert Rivas.

If it later turns out to be possible for the State to try Dr. Egbert, Judge Wilton said he hoped Dr. Egbert’s trial could begin later in May, immediately after the corporation’s trial, but close observers said there were many reasons why it might be impossible for Dr. Egbert’s trial to start so soon. If Dr. Egbert ever stands trial, it is more likely his trial will be postponed for many months or perhaps more than a year.
“The State’s last-minute decision to try to conduct two separate trials for the Network and Dr. Egbert, if it is successful, would not only double the cost of the trial for the taxpayers, but will also greatly increase the cost to the Network of defending itself and its former medical director,” said the Network’s president, Wendell J. Stephenson of Fresno, California.

The case begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday with jury selection in the Dakota County Judicial Center, 1500 Highway 55, Hastings, Minnesota. If jury selection is completed on Thursday, May 7, the trial will begin the next day. If jury selection is not completed until Friday, May 8, the trial will begin Monday, May 11. All proceedings are open to the public.

It is estimated the trial will take anywhere from one to three weeks after a jury is selected. Stephenson urges Network supporters to attend and to contribute to the defense fund.

Final Exit Network, Inc. is charged with: (1) “assisting” in a “suicide,” (2) aiding and abetting to “assist” in a “suicide,” (3) interfering in a “death scene,” and (4) aiding and abetting to interfere in a “death scene.” The officers and board members of the corporation are not threatened with any form of personal liability or punishment. The only penalty the corporation itself could potentially face is a maximum fine of $33,000.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.