Suicide Nurse Appeals Conviction 07 Nov 11

The attorney for an ex-nurse from southern Minnesota found guilty of encouraging two depressed people to commit suicide is asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn his conviction, saying his actions were constitutionally protected free speech. In papers filed Friday, his defense attorney argues that the trial court created a new category of prohibited speech, in violation of US Supreme Court rulings, when it found that William Melchert-Dinkel of Faribault broke a Minnesota law against encouraging suicides. Melchert-Dinkel acknowledges he gave the British man and Canadian woman advice over the Internet on how to hang themselves. But his attorney argues they had already decided to commit suicide, and his communications did not lead them to do something they wouldn’t have otherwise done. The trial court rejected the free-speech arguments.