Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kansas murder trial, defense claims it was assisted suicide (Day 2).

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday I wrote about the first day of the Ronald Heskett trial in Eudora Kansas.

The case concerns the death of Vance Moulton (65), who was living with cerebral palsy. Moulton was allegedly murdered by Heskett, who was a care-giver. Heskett has been charged with first-degree murder, but he claims that the death was an assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide is when someone assists the suicide death that is carried our by the person who died. It can be done in many ways. Euthanasia is a form of homicide (murder) that is done when one person directly and intentionally causes the death of another person.

According to the Lawrence Journal World news, day 2 of the trial focused on the defense, who claim that Heskett did not murder Moulton by asphyxiation. According to the news report:
Heskett said he called his boss to report Moulton had killed himself while Heskett was out running errands for him. Heskett told police that he arrived ... around 10 a.m. Sept. 12, 2014, and found Moulton dead of apparent asphyxiation.
... Heskett told investigators of his daily routine with Moulton. At least four times a week, Heskett said he would tend to Moulton, cooking, dressing and bathing him. Each morning, Heskett said they’d watch the Top 40 Country Countdown together on TV and talk sports. Heskett said Moulton, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, would often kid Heskett about his baseball team, the Kansas City Royals. 
“We were pretty close,” Heskett said. “To me, he was like an older brother or an uncle or something.” 
But about six months prior to Moulton’s death, Heskett claimed, Moulton grew increasingly pessimistic, allegedly asking Heskett daily to “shoot him.” 
... “Every day he was upset about life.” 
Heskett claimed Moulton was especially irritated with his living arrangements ... that Moulton was angry with his landlord because Moulton felt the landlord caused a prior health care attendant to be fired. 
Moulton also was allegedly torn by the thoughts of his medical condition. 
Heskett said that he tried to console Moulton. He said he relayed to Moulton his own prior suicide attempt. ... he told Moulton “things got better” after he survived an attempt ... in the late 1980s. 
Heskett also claimed that he tried to get Moulton to see a counselor, but Moulton wouldn’t have it. 
...  Moulton allegedly asked Heskett to have his son shoot him, but Heskett told him, “You’re not sending my son to prison.”
Ronald Heskett
Heskett claims that the death was a suicide.
“(Moulton) can pull himself around on that bed,” Heskett said. “His cerebral palsy affected his legs … his right arm and hand was just a good as yours or mine.”
But Erik Mitchell, the county coroner, claims that due to his medical condition it was not possible for Moulton to kill himself in this manner:
“It would not be possible (for Moulton) to ... cause suffocation, Mitchell said.
“At the time of death, the right arm is immobile by gravity,” Mitchell said. “He is unable to accomplish strangulation due to his physical deformities.” 
If the content in this article is causing you to have suicidal thoughts contact Your Life Counts.

I am interested in this story because Heskett says that the death was an assisted suicide. I am not stating that this didn't occur, but it is possible to cause death and claim assisted suicide as a defense. Further coverage of the case tomorrow.

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