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updated: 3/19/2014 10:47 AM

Court reverses convictions in aiding-suicide case

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  • The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed the convictions of former nurse William Melchert-Dinkel, center, accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.

      The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed the convictions of former nurse William Melchert-Dinkel, center, accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.
    Associated Press file photo

 
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed the convictions of a former nurse accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.

The court ruled Wednesday that the language in the state's assisted-suicide law is unconstitutional when it comes to "encouraging" suicides. But it found the part of the law that bans "assisting" suicide is constitutional.

It sent the case against 51-year-old William Melchert-Dinkel back to a lower court.

Melchert-Dinkel argued that the law was too broad and that his conduct was protected speech. His 360-day jail sentence had been on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

Prosecutors say Melchert-Dinkel encouraged someone from England and someone from Canada to kill themselves.

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