- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Court reverses convictions in aiding-suicide case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the convictions of a former nurse accused of trolling the Internet for suicidal people and encouraging two to kill themselves, ruling Wednesday that part of a law banning someone from “encouraging” suicide is unconstitutional.

William Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in 2011 of two counts of aiding suicide, after a judge found he “intentionally advised and encouraged” an English man and a Canadian woman to take their own lives.

But the state’s highest court found that language in Minnesota’s law that makes it illegal to “advise” or “encourage” suicide is too broad and encompasses speech that expresses a viewpoint and is protected under the First Amendment.

However, the justices upheld part of the law that makes it a crime to “assist” in someone’s suicide - and said speech could be considered assisting. Since the lower court judge did not issue a ruling on “assisting” suicide, Melchert-Dinkel’s case was sent back to that judge for further consideration.

“It’s a legal system; it’s not a justice system. The two are completely different,” said Deborah Chevalier, the mother of the Canadian woman who took her life after communicating online with Melchert-Dinkel. “At the very least, the world knows what he’s done. His friends, his family know what he’s done. He can’t run away from that.”

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Organizer apologizes for Nazi items at party

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The organizer of a World War II party that included Nazi flags and men in SS uniforms apologized Wednesday after a photo of the event in Minneapolis provoked outrage on the Internet.

Scott Steben had said earlier that the Jan. 20 dinner was a Christmas party and an exercise for period actors. But in an apology reported by the Star Tribune on Wednesday (http://strib.mn/1nE65Ax), Steben said his group understands that some items displayed at the dinner “have made people feel uncomfortable.” He said, “That was not our intent.”

“We are a historical re-enactment and professional actor society dedicated to promoting understanding of World War II. In no way are we or any of our members affiliated with groups that promote the subjugation of anyone,” the statement read.

Steben didn’t immediately respond to a phone message and email from The Associated Press.

The dinner featured men in SS and German Army uniforms, as well as Nazi banners hung on the walls of a German restaurant booked for the event. A photo from the party was first posted online by the alternative weekly City Pages.

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Judge: Stowaway boy can return home soon

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A judge says a Minnesota boy who stowed away on a Las Vegas-bound flight last year can return home soon+.

The boy, who’s now 10, has been under the supervision of child protective services and at a residential facility receiving treatment for his behavior.

Hennepin County Judge Joseph Klein said Wednesday the boy will be put on a waiting list for services and can return home once they are available.

The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/OD1D53) reports lawyers say the boy’s parents are eager for him to return home.

The boy gained national notoriety Oct. 3 when he sneaked past security at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and boarded a flight to Las Vegas by himself without a ticket. He was detained when the plane landed in Nevada and returned to Minnesota.

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Judge won’t dismiss Ventura ‘American Sniper’ suit

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A judge on Wednesday allowed former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s defamation lawsuit against the widow of slain “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle to go to trial.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle denied a motion by Chris Kyle’s widow to dismiss the suit. The judge is not related to Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who was killed last year at a Texas gun range.

Ventura alleges Chris Kyle, considered to be the deadliest sniper in American history, defamed him in his best-selling book. In it, Kyle claimed he punched someone named “Scruff Face,” whom he later identified as Ventura, in a 2006 bar fight. Ventura says the fight never happened.

“It’s never been about money. It’s about clearing my name. It’s a lie,” Ventura told The Associated Press in an interview last month.

The judge wrote Ventura has offered enough evidence that a jury could conclude Chris Kyle’s statements were “materially false.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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