Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Convicted killer in British Columbia tried using "assisted suicide" defense

It has taken several days to think through the issues surrounding the second-degee murder conviction of Thomas Elton in the stabbing death of his wife Brenda Turcan/Blondell. Elton was convicted last week in Surrey BC.

Elton claimed that Blondell's death was a suicide pact gone wrong, meaning that he completed the her suicide but he didn't die by suicide himself.

His defense was that this was an assisted suicide and not a homicide.

1. Elton is on parole for the stabbing death of a fellow prisoner who he murdered in 1975.
2. Blondell, who also used the name Turcan, was on parole for a 1987 murder that she committed in Burnaby BC.
3. Elton claimed that Blondell was living with terminal cancer and that his act was part of a murder-suicide.
4. Elton claimed that he found Blondell unresponsive so he finished her suicide by first strangling her, and then stabbing her, to make sure that she had died.
5. Elton claimed that he then gave the dog pills and he took pills himself, in order to commit suicide.
6. The autopsy showed that Blondell did not take any pills and that she died from strangulation.

A story written by Jennifer Saltman in the Vancouver Province actually gave credibility to Elton's claims.

There are many problems with Elton's story.
1. Even if Elton had a suicide pact, Blondell died from strangulation. Assisted suicide is defined as an act that one does to oneself with the assistance of another. Clearly this is not an assisted suicide.
2. When you do a google search concerning Thomas Elton, you come across another case in 1998 where Elton attempted to kill a man by stabbing. In that case, Elton also claimed that the attempted murder was a murder/suicide and at the trial in 1999, Elton was acquitted of murder. In other words, Elton has used this defense before. (It is likely that the court was unable to consider the fact that Elton had used this defense before).

Finally, if assisted suicide or euthanasia was legalized, then cases, such as this, will be harder to decide, especially if the person has hired an accomplished lawyer.

It appears that Elton has been given significant leniency considering the fact that he was convicted of second-degree murder and not first-degree murder.

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