Is Helping a Man Kill Himself the Same as Murder?

Jeffrey Locker (pictured) was a motivational speaker. He was good enough to motivate a random guy that he met on the street, Kenneth Minor, to take his ATM card in exchange for holding a knife as Locker repeatedly impaled himself on it, and died.

The basic facts of the case are not in dispute. And yesterday, based upon those facts, Minor was convicted of second degree murder. Because he used the victim's ATM card to take out money— something Minor says Locker agreed to—the prosecutor charged him with murdering Locker, for money. But is it murder if the victim begs you to do it? The judge in the case said that "The consent of the victim is not a defense to murder." Minor's lawyer disagreed:

Mr. Gotlin said the New York law on assisted suicide made no distinction between passive or active participation; it only states that a person "causes or aides" in another person's death. (In that case, he said the charge would be manslaughter in the second degree and not murder.)

It's a philosophical question. Clearly, society does not want to encourage suicidal people to hire strangers off the street to help them die violently. But if you believe in the right of a person to decide to end his own life, then failing to distinguish those who assist them with suicide from common, cold-blooded murderers is lunacy, not justice.

[NYT]