HASTINGS, Minn. -- Members of a right-to-die group, charged with assisting the suicide of an Apple Valley woman, have been booked and released from Dakota County jail.
Three of the four members of the Final Exit Network appeared in Dakota County court, facing a total of 17 charges involving assisting suicide and interfering with a death scene. They were released on their own recognizance and will reappear in court in the fall.
Doreen Dunn, 57, was found dead by her husband on the sofa in her living room on May 30, 2007. Court records say the former musician had been suffering from chronic pain and depression, but at the time, a Dakota County Medical Examiner autopsy determined she died from heart disease and natural causes.
A tip call from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reopened her death case in the fall of 2009. Apple Valley Police then learned Dunn became a member of the Final Exit Network, paying a $50 fee for consultation and even comfort during the suicide.
A grand jury indicted four members of the group for helping her commit suicide: Dr. Lawrence D. Egbert, 84, of Baltimore and Jerry D. Dincin, 81, of Highland Park, Ill., Roberta Massey, 66, of Bear, Del., Thomas Goodwin, 65, of Punta Gorda, Fla.
Dincin did not appear in court Monday due to severe illness. Dakota County Attorney records show Dincin and Egbert were with Dunn at the time of her death, indicating she died from helium asphyxiation.
"Exit Guides subsequently dispose of these materials in a trash bin some distance away from the location of the suicide," said James Backstrom, in public prosecution comments.
"We have done nothing illegal. All we have done is provide information and compassionate presence," said Final Exit Network treasurer Judy Snyderman, of Cincinnati. "The issue for us for us is for people everywhere to have the choice of a death with dignity. And if they have a terminal disease or pain that can't be controlled, and their quality of life is poor, and they want to hasten their death, we want them to have that right."
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