Kevorkian Aide Indicted for Murder

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

RIO RANCHO, N.M. -- An associate of assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian was indicted Thursday on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of a woman who suffered from multiple sclerosis.

Georges Reding, a psychiatrist from Galesburg, Mich., was also charged in the grand jury indictment with practicing medicine without a license, trafficking in a controlled substance, pentobarbital, and with evidence tampering in the Aug. 30, 1998, death of Donna Brennan, 54.

``It is our intention to proceed to prosecution,'' District Attorney Mike Runnels said. ``This whole case began because the family asked the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety to look into the circumstances surrounding Donna Brennan's death. It was their unease that initiated the whole thing,'' Runnels said. Brennan's relatives live out of state, he said.

``They were apprised of the case as it developed and knew we were taking it to the grand jury. We filed the indictment at 2:58 p.m. (MDT),'' Runnels said.

``I think the bottom line here is we presented to the grand jury, as we do in all cases, a thorough case and gave (grand jurors) the options available under the law and left it to the grand jury to make the decision as to what charges, based on the case as presented, they believed to be appropriate,'' he said.

Assisted suicide is a felony in New Mexico punishable by 18 months in prison, but the jury chose to indict not for assisted suicide but for first-degree murder, which usually takes a life prison term, considered to be a minimum 30-year term.

Authorities initially thought Ms. Brennan had died of natural causes, but an autopsy determined she died from a lethal dose of toxic pentobarbital. Telephone and credit-card records and a witness placed Reding at the Brennan house around the time of her death.

An attorney for Reding, Michael Schwartz, said early this month that ``it would be a foolish waste of time to seek an indictment of Georges Reding.''

Kevorkian has been in a maximum-security facility near Manistee, Mich., since his April conviction on a second-degree murder charge. In 1996, Reding was charged in connection with three assisted-suicide deaths in Oakland County, Mich. Kevorkian also was charged. Charges were dropped after a prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence to win the case. Less than two years later, Reding and Kevorkian were arrested on charges of resisting arrest and interfering with police while dropping a body off at a Royal Oak, Mich., hospital. Reding was acquitted in that case, while Kevorkian was convicted.

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