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Associated Press, Published October 01 2010

Lawyer wants Minnesota aiding-suicide case dismissed

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A lawyer for an ex-nurse charged with encouraging two people to kill themselves says the case should be dismissed because Minnesota's law on assisting suicide is vague and his client's behavior is protected speech.

Prosecutors say 48-year-old William Melchert-Dinkel of Faribault visited suicide chat rooms online and offered step-by-step instructions for committing suicide. He's charged in the suicides of an English man and a Canadian woman.

In court documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press, attorney Terry Watkins says the charges are based on online chats and e-mail exchanges, and there are no allegations of direct involvement in the suicides.

He says the Minnesota Legislature hasn't clarified what type of conduct would violate its assisted suicide law.

The Rice County prosecutor did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.