After three days of testimony, a Dakota County jury began deliberating whether a national right-to-die group assisted in an Apple Valley woman’s 2007 suicide, but recessed Wednesday before reaching a verdict.
In closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Assistant Dakota County Attorney Phil Prokopowicz told jurors that Final Exit Network Inc. gave Doreen Dunn, 57, the “blueprint” for ending her life and made efforts to conceal her suicide from family and authorities. The corporation is charged with assisting a suicide and interference with a dead body or death scene, offenses punishable by up to $33,000 in fines.
“There is both direct and circumstantial evidence as to what happened,” Prokopowicz said
But after the state rested its case, Final Exit Network attorney Rob Rivas said he wouldn’t introduce any evidence or witnesses because what prosecutors presented proved the corporation’s innocence, not guilt.
“It proves Final Exit Network is exactly what it says it is. It does exactly what it says it does — nothing more, nothing illegal,” Rivas said.
Final Exit Network provides information and support to people who are terminally ill or in chronic pain and want to end their lives. Attempts in other states to convict the organization have failed.
Doreen Dunn suffered from chronic pain. Her husband, Mark Dunn, testified during the trial, saying he did not approve of assisted suicide.
Prokopowicz argued that Dunn would have required help setting up and turning on the helium tanks used to end her life.
Rivas said that Dunn could have lifted a plastic hood over her head and used her finger to twist on the helium tanks. He added that Final Exit Network policies prohibit its agents from purchasing or touching anything used to end a member’s life.
Jurors will continue deliberations Thursday.