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Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 03:06 GMT

World: Americas

'Dr Death' to face murder trial

Mr Youk asked Dr Kevorkian to help him die

American euthanasia campaigner Dr Jack Kevorkian has been ordered to stand trial for murder after he was shown on television giving a lethal injection to a patient.

"The intent to kill was premeditated and thought out beforehand," District Judge Phyllis McMillen said at a preliminary hearing.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Dr Kevorkian would face a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole.

[ image: Dr Kevorkian wants a showdown with the authorities]
Dr Kevorkian wants a showdown with the authorities
The 70-year-old retired pathologist, dubbed Dr Death, has admitted helping more than 120 people to die since 1990.

Oakland County prosecutors filed charges against him last month for injecting Thomas Youk, 52, in September with a lethal drug.

Dr Kevorkian had dared them to charge him after he gave a videotape of the mercy killing to the television company, CBS.

An edited version, broadcast on 22 November on the news programme 60 Minutes, was seen by more than 15 million households.

Three injections

The prosecution played the full tape at the hearing on Wednesday. It showed Dr Kevorkian counselling Mr Youk, who was terminally ill with a wasting disease.

Two days later, the doctor gave his patient three injections. The last one was potassium chloride which stopped his heart.

In the broadcast, reporter Mike Wallace asked Dr Kevorkian: "You killed him?"

The doctor replied: "I did, but it could be manslaughter not murder. It doesn't bother me what you call it. I know what it is."

'This is not a crime'

Judge McMillen said prosecutors had provided enough evidence for Dr Kevorkian to be charged with premeditated murder and assisted suicide.

She also ordered him to stand trial on a charge of delivering a controlled substance which carries up to seven years.

Outside court Dr Kevorkian remained defiant: "In any society that considers itself enlightened ... this could never be a crime, no matter what words are written on paper," he said.

The doctor has twice been charged with murder, only to have the charges later dropped.

He has also been acquitted of assisted suicide in four previous trials.

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