The Right to Die

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

    May 15, 2017
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    Is this a drastic overreach by the law?

    Lawyers argued over appropriate sentencing for a man convicted of mailing fatal cyanide. The prosecutor tried to paint him as a calculated killer, while the defense said he was a victim of his own mental illness.

    Sidney Kilmartin, 50, of Windham, Maine, was found guilty in 2016 of mailing injurious articles resulting in death and witness tampering.

    Kilmartin faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison, but his defense attorney made the case that he should be sentenced to less time because of Kilmartin's history of mental illness and suicidal behavior. His attorney also pointed out the actual nature of the crime, that the death in this case was Kilmartin assisting a suicidal man to intentionally cause his own death.

    According to the indictment, Kilmartin advertised cyanide to send to several suicidal people. Unknown to them, the substance he actually mailed them was harmless Epsom salt. But investigators said he later sent the real cyanide to an Andrew Denton, living in England, who used it to kill himself.

    Investigators claim Kilmartin wanted to prevent Denton from reporting his fraud. Halsey Frank, the U.S. attorney in Maine, said in court that Kilmartin "toyed with these victims".

    "It wasn't just anyone, it was particularly vulnerable people. He sought them deliberately by advertising that he had deadly poison on a website dedicated to suicide," Frank said. "It indicates to me a maliciousness that is pretty extreme."

    Kilmartin's defense attorney painted a picture of Kilmartin's and Denton's correspondence as one of two men who both wanted to die. Kilmartin had once attempted to kill himself by overdosing on medication and drinking antifreeze, and has continued to suffer with depression and mental illness, said the defense, and also suggested Kilmartin may not have been "in his mind at the time" when he mailed the cyanide to Denton.

    "He thought he was helping Mr. Denton accomplish what he wanted to accomplish," his defense attorney said. "Not a premeditated, malicious act."

    Kilmartin, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, spoke only briefly during Friday's appearance while addressing the judge, John Woodcock. He told Woodcock he intends to address the court with a statement when his sentencing resumes next month.

    Kilmartin pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud but had pleaded 'not guilty' to the charges of witness tampering and mailing injurious articles.

    So, what's the problem here? He sent cyanide to someone who knew what it was and chose to kill himself with it.
    Yet they're trying to hold him responsible for the death.

    Interesting how you can assist a woman getting a late-term abortion, but if you assist someone committing suicide you get into big legal trouble.

    And who's to say that English man would not have killed himself regardless? He might simply have selected some other means. The connection between sending him cyanide and him dying is not a clear one.

    This is yet another example of prosecutors being able to twist and stretch laws to mean whatever they want them to mean. "Mailing injurious articles", that could be just about anything, couldn't it? I'm pretty sure the Congressmen didn't have in mind intentional suicide when they voted on that law. The "witness tempering" charge was because he sent the man the means to kill himself. But that doesn't make logical legal sense either. Before he sent the real cyanide, what crime was he trying to cover up? And are we going to charge everyone who commits a homicide with "witness tempering" because they prevented the witness from coming to the police?

    As for sending poison in the mail, I took a look at the law and it reads pretty ambiguous whether the prohibition applies to only the U.S. postal service, or all mail carriers. The absence of a single comma punctuation mark would seem to make it apply to all mail carriers. But if that's the case, the government doesn't seems to have a problem with online retailers selling rat poison. And there are all sorts of stuff that are mildly poisonous—potentially they could kill—that are mailed all the time. Could a prosecutor take this law and go after an online nursery for selling an ordinary garden plant that happens to be poisonous? If I mail you apple seeds or peach pits, is that against the law? I think we can also be sure the amount of cyanide Kilmartin sent was extremely small and didn't pose a hazard to anyone except the one who intentionally swallowed it.
    These are just dragnet laws that are conveniently there for prosecutors to be able to go after whoever they want to go after; they can almost always find something to charge someone with whatever the situation, there are so many of these types of laws.

    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018

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