Sentencing is scheduled for Monday for a national right-to-die group that was convicted this spring by jurors in Dakota County for assisting an Apple Valley woman’s suicide eight years ago.
Final Exit Network Inc. faces up to $33,000 in fines for the two felony convictions handed down in May. In a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. in Hastings, Judge Christian S. Wilton will reveal how much the network must pay. This is the first time that the group, a corporation, has been convicted of assisting a suicide.
Jurors deliberated just 90 minutes over two days before finding Final Exit Network guilty in 57-year-old Doreen Dunn’s 2007 suicide and with interfering with the death scene.
At the time of the conviction, County Attorney James Backstrom said, “What Final Exit Network does in aiding vulnerable individuals who suffer from serious illness — but who are not terminally ill, like Doreen Dunn — in taking their own lives is simply unacceptable. It’s morally wrong and [the] jury’s verdict tells us it is legally wrong.”
After the verdict, Robert Rivas, an attorney for the group, said there was no evidence of assistance, only evidence of advising and encouraging a suicide. Last year, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the state’s law forbidding “advising or encouraging” suicide was unconstitutional, but maintained it is illegal to assist physically or by use of speech.
Dunn made her “exit request” in January 2007 with the Georgia-based nonprofit, writing that she was “living with unbearable, excruciating” pain for 10 years after a medical procedure.
Dunn’s application was approved the next month, and she took her own life by helium asphyxiation on May 30, 2007.
Star Tribune staff writer Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.