ST. PAUL, Minn. — The attorney for an ex-nurse found guilty of encouraging two depressed people to commit suicide is asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn his conviction on free speech grounds.
Oral arguments are scheduled Wednesday in the case of William Melchert-Dinkel (MEL’-kurt DINK’-ehl). The southern Minnesota man was convicted last year of aiding the suicides of a British man and a Canadian woman.
Melchert-Dinkel acknowledges he went online and gave the victims advice on how to hang themselves. His attorney, Terry Watkins, says he was exercising his free speech rights.
Prosecutors from Rice County disagree, saying First Amendment protections don’t cover words that encourage another person’s lawless conduct. They say the evidence shows Melchert-Dinkel’s speech encouraged the victims to do something they might not have done without him.