Melchert-Dinkel has admitted to being involved in the deaths of Carlton University student Nadia Kajouji and Mark Drybrough from the UK, but he has pled not guilty to assisting their suicide deaths.
Instead of facing a three week trial, Melchert-Dinkel has decided to opt for a rarely used Minnesota provision that gives the judge seven days to review the case and then the judge decides whether or not he is guilty of the crime.
The following is the article in the Ottawa Citizen by Lee Greenberg:
The trial of a Minnesota nurse accused of assisted suicide in the death of a Carleton University student took another unexpected turn Tuesday, when William Melchert-Dinkel announced he will waive his right to a trial.
Melchert-Dinkel, who has admitted to prowling online suicide chat rooms and coercing depressed people into killing themselves, was scheduled to appear at a three-week trial in April.
Instead, he is employing a rarely used Minnesota legal provision. A judge will Thursday review the prosecution’s case against Melchert-Dinkel and decide within seven days whether the 48 year old Minnesotan is guilty of two counts of assisted suicide.
By entering the unusual motion, known as a Lothenbach plea, Melchert-Dinkel waives his right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, to compel his own witnesses to testify and his right to testify on his own behalf.
He is still nevertheless pleading not guilty.
“We neither think witnesses are necessary nor do we think a trial in any way benefits my client,” said Terry Watkins, Melchert-Dinkel’s lawyer.Melchert-Dinkel, a father of two teenage daughters, lives in the picturesque town of Faribault, Minnesota, about an hour south of Minneapolis. State authorities began investigating the troubled former nurse after a British grandmother complained in 2008 he was encouraging depressed online chatroom participants into suicide.
“There’s not a disagreement basically with the facts in this case so a trial based on stipulated facts would be much more efficient and much more effective and would be in the best interests of both my client and the government.”
Celia Blay pointed Minnesota police to the case of Mark Drybrough, a 32-year old Briton, who hanged himself in 2005 after corresponding with Melchert-Dinkel.
Police later learned of the 2008 suicide of Nadia Kajouji, a Brampton teen and first-year Carleton University student who was befriended by Melchert-Dinkel and coaxed into a false suicide pact. The aging, overweight man was posing as a 20-something woman when he asked Kajouji to kill herself in front of a webcam while he watched.
“If you go ... any kind of home improvement store — get yellow nylon rope about eight feet or about 3.5 meters and about one-inch thick or about three centimetres that is all you need and look around apartment for somewhere to hang from,” he told Nadia during one chat session. “I can help you with the cam when you need to.”When he learned of a police investigation into the issue, Melchert-Dinkel checked into a state hospital and claimed to be suffering from an “addiction” to suicide chat rooms.
He told police he formed “10 or 11” false suicide pacts with people over the world and compared his preoccupation with hunting human game, telling detectives he enjoyed “the thrill of the chase.”
Ottawa police told Kajouji’s mother they decided against charging Melchert-Dinkel because there was no evidence he directly caused her suicide.
That decision perplexed legal scholars, who said Canada’s suicide provision does not require such causality.
Minnesota police says the charges are the first in recent memory. State law punishes anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists” suicide with up to 15 years imprisonment and up to a $30,000 fine.
Links to information about the Melchert-Dinkel case.