A mercy killing of a bad case
The dubious arrest of Barbara Mancini in 2013 for allegedly assisting in a supposed suicide attempt sparked a debate over whether individuals with terminal conditions have the right to end their lives.
Now a merciful ruling by Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline L. Russell has dismissed the assisted suicide charge, while offering Attorney General Kathleen Kane, whose office brought the case, a chance to end a suicidal prosecution.
It turns out that the fundamental problem wasn't public policy towards suicide and assisted suicide, but that the attorney general's office presented a lousy case.
According to the judge, prosecutors charged Mrs. Mancini, 58, of Philadelphia, without even proving that her father, Joseph Yourshaw, 93, actually had committed suicide.
"An accused cannot be found to have aided and then caused a ... person to attempt suicide without competent proof that an attempted suicide had indeed occurred," the judge wrote.
Prosecutors contended that Mrs. Mancini handed her father a bottle of prescribed morphine for his pain on Feb. 7, 2013 and that he drank an overdose in an effort to kill himself. He was revived at a hospital through the use of a drug that counters the effects of morphine, and died four days later - after the hospital also administered morphine for his pain.
"As presented to the court," the judge wrote, "the commonwealth's case appears to have been based on little independent investigation, hearsay - including double hearsay received from third persons - speculation, guess(es) and defendant's alleged's incriminating statements."
The judge appears to have committed a mercy killing of a bad case. Mrs. Kane should let it go.