LANSING (AP) — A lawyer for Jack Kevorkian asked the
Michigan Parole Board yesterday to recommend Gov. Jennifer Granholm
release the 76-year-old assisted suicide advocate, citing a number
of health problems including a hernia, high blood pressure and
Kevorkian’s attorney Mayer Morganroth asked the Michigan
Parole Board to recommend Granholm either pardon his client or
commute his sentence.
Morganroth said Kevorkian’s health has deteriorated during
his 5 1/2 years in prison. Kevorkian’s high blood pressure
“has been extremely volatile in nature and has risen to the
danger level for a heart attack at times,” Morganroth wrote
in the request.
Kevorkian also suffers from hepatitis C and has beginning stages
of cataracts, Morganroth said.
“The effects of incarceration upon the health of Dr.
Kevorkian have caused his personal physician … to express
serious concern for Dr. Kevorkian’s well-being,”
The request came a week after the U.S. Supreme Court decided
against hearing Kevorkian’s appeal of his second-degree
murder conviction for the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk. Youk had
Lou Gehrig’s disease. The death, which Kevorkian called a
mercy killing, was videotaped and shown on national television.
Kevorkian claimed in the appeal he had an ineffective attorney.
Kevorkian was sentenced to 10 to 25 years; he is eligible for
parole in 2007.
Kevorkian has said he assisted in at least 130 deaths, but has
promised in affidavits and the newest request for pardon or
commutation that he will not assist in a suicide if he is released
from prison. Michigan banned assisted suicide in 1998.
The request filed yesterday is Kevorkian’s second. The
state parole board voted against his first request a year ago.
Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of
Corrections, said the state had not received Kevorkian’s new
request as of late yesterday afternoon.
Marlan emphasized that medical commutations only are granted for
inmates who are expected to live a year or less.
“We have plenty of prisoners that have cataracts and
arthritis, but that doesn’t mean they should be granted a
commutation,” Marlan said. “They’re only granted
for offenders that have little chance of surviving very much
Granholm, a Democrat, has granted four medical commutations
since taking office in January 2003. Three of those four have died,
The chairman of the state’s 10-member parole board will
review Kevorkian’s request and decide whether there have been
significant changes in the inmate’s health since his last
request, Marlan said.
If the chairman doesn’t think much has changed, he will
send a letter denying the request to Kevorkian’s attorney,
Marlan said. If he thinks things are different now, the whole board
will consider going ahead with a psychological evaluation and
public hearings to determine whether to recommend releasing
Kevorkian early, Marlan said.