Suicide-encouraging nurse Melchert-Dinkel is "very decent human being," lawyer says

Categories: Law
melchert-dinke2l.jpg
William Melchert-Dinkel
Defense attorney Terry Watkins scored a huge victory on Wednesday, as the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the conviction of his most notorious client: William Melchert-Dinkel, the former Faribault nurse who was convicted of advising and encouraging two people to kill themselves via online communications.

THE BACKSTORY: Suicide-encouraging nurse's conviction is unconstitutional, Supreme Court rules

Melchert-Dinkel misrepresented his identity and entered into false suicide pacts with people (he's obviously still alive). When investigators tracked him down in Faribault, he initially tried to pin the blame on his two young daughters. But despite all that, Watkins says this of his client: "When I met Mr. Melchert-Dinkel it was very clear that at his core this was a very decent human being."

"This was a person with a family -- a wife and two kids," Watkins says. "This was a guy who had made a mistake for reasons that are very complicated, that don't have anything to do with the core character of his person."

But, Watkins adds, "We weren't arguing that his actions should be condoned or that they should be considered anything other than what they were -- unsavory, depraved perhaps -- so we were always segregating the reality of the action from what the First Amendment protects."

"Freedom means you have to allow things to happen that some would find disgusting and completely unacceptable from a community or moral standpoint," Watkins says. "But you have to accept it because there are greater implications."

Asked about whether he thinks the Supreme Court's ruling has implications that go beyond the Melchert-Dinkel case, Watkins says he hasn't spent too much time thinking about it.

"It might have ramifications in terms of the concept of suicide and maybe tangentially touch on internet speech, but for us it was always simply a matter of having my client acquitted," he says.

Watkins was confident all along the court would rule in his favor.

"From where I was standing the only common sense view of the law is prohibiting the assistance of suicide, prohibiting someone actually helping another commit the act," he says. "So I think the law has been pared down to what it should've always been."

Though Melchert-Dinkel's conviction was overturned thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a statute criminalizing assisting or encouraging suicide, the ruling also remands the case back to district court. That means prosecutors could try to secure a conviction under the statute prohibiting assisting suicide. (Another option would be for prosecutors to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.)

But Watkins doesn't think the state would be able to convict Melchert-Dinkel of assisting suicide.

"This was an encouragement and advising activity," Watkins says. "I don't think the evidence would suggest that this was assistance."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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10 comments
vilmateodoro5
vilmateodoro5

I admire Watkins for his ability to defend Melchert-Dinkel in such an unbiased way. It takes skill to be able to see past a person's flaws and defend them in the court. From what I have read, I agree with everything that Watkins says. His client should be defended well in the hearing.

http://integralaw.ca/

kathieyount
kathieyount

Before Attorney Watkins uses "decent," he should look up the definition. A "decent" human being conforms to the standards of acceptable moral behavior. WMDinkel is a disgusting online suicide baiter, a predator exploiting the most vulnerable pariahs in our society -- the suicidally mentally ill.


Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

This man is not decent in any way shape or form.  He was an internet predator who got a thrill out of fraudulently representing who he is, and got his kicks out of people killing themselves. 

He preyed on vulnerable people.  That is not free speech, that is as sick as it is possible to get.


His family are alive.  His two kids did not commit suicide.  This man should go to jail for the rest of his life.  He is one twisted fuck.


This should NOT be actions constitutionally protected as free speech any more than inciting people to riot or to lynch someone or yelling fire in a crowded theater (that is not burning) is free speech.

What we should do however is make it easier - as they have in other places, both in and outside the U.S. for terminally ill people to choose to end their suffering with dignity under careful medical care.  That differs from what this scum did by requiring extensive medical and psychological evaluation, and for the purpose of ending pain where there is no hope of recovery, with the greatest respect and dignity --- the exact opposite of everything this man did.


Preying on vulnerable people for the purpose of a cheap thrill should not be 'free speech'.  Sometimes we go too far, and make a serious error in what we call liberty.  There is no liberty to harm others guaranteed in the Constitution.

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

Bwahaha this guy is a POS yes but as lawyers and courts say he isn't a criminal. Only you can pull the trigger, you can't blame others. In a society such as ours you are responsible for your actions and you alone.

MrGasso
MrGasso

Wow. Wait until Karma comes back to this guy. It ain't gonna be pretty!

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

@midwestexplorer81 He preyed on vulnerable people.  He misrepresented himself.  He is as guilty as a pedophile predator.  You get in similar trouble for trying to lure a kid to have sex over the internet; apparently for this guy it was a similar thrill to a pedophile's sex thrill.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

@MrGasso We shouldn't have to wait.  This would be an illegal act in every other free country in the world.  We look like monsters to the rest of the world, and probably are, for calling this constitutional free speech.


We don't allow yelling fire in a crowded theater for fun; we don't allow slander and libel that hurts other people either.  


This hurt other people, and it involved illegal actions and fraud as well - so why do we pretend it's ok as free speech?  It is not.

I sincerely hope this man loses his wife and kids, whether convicted or not -- he does not deserve love or respect.  He deprived other families of their spouses and children.


And he shows no remorse apparently, and every indication he wants to do more of the same.


This man is a predator, pure and simple.  A ghoul.


Free speech has a public benefit as well as an individual one; this does not.

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