On September 1st a new law in Michigan made assisted suicide a felony. As a reaction to the new law and in order to provoke action from the authorites, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who had admittedly participated in over 130 assisted suicides since 1990, brought a videotape to CBS to be shown on "60 Minutes". Airing of the videotape resulted in murder charges and a trial for Kevorkian.
Although Kevorkian had been tried 4 times already, he had not yet been tried for murder. Previous cases were on charges of assisted suicide. Three ended with acquittals and one ended with a mistrial. This case, based on the videotaped episode, presented a novel opportunity for prosecution since Kevorkian administered the fatal injection himself, rather than using a "suicide machine".
9/1/98: A Michigan law takes effect making assisted suicide a felony punishable by five years in prison.
9/17: Thomas Youk, who suffered from Lou Gherig's Disease, is found dead by a hospice nurse, having been injected with a barbiturate mixture simliar to chemicals used previously by Kevorkian.
11/?: Kevorkian brings a videotape to CBS for "60 Minutes". Kevorkian says he gave the tape to the weekly news program to force the police to act. (Kevorkian had not been questioned for Youk's death, though the death was ruled a homicide).
11/20: The Oakland Press of Pontiac, Mich., reports that Youk is the patient being injected by Kevorkian in the video set to air on the last Sunday of the November sweeps period.
11/22: The tape airs on CBS' "60 Minutes", with the actual moment of death edited out, in accord with CBS policy.
11/23: Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca subpoenas "60 Minutes" for the unedited video. Gorcyca says "it appeared a homicide was committed" on the tape, but indicates he would not be pushed into making a "premature charging decision." Kevorkian challenges Gorcyca to charge him within a week or he'll resume the assisted suicude practice.
11/24: CBS decides to comply with the subpoena.
11/25: Kevorkian is charged with first-degree murder and assisted suicide. Kevorkian plans to represent himself in court.
12/9: After a preliminary hearing, a judge orders Kevorkian to be tried on charges of first-degree murder, assisted suicide and delivering a controlled substance.
12/16: Kevorkian is arraigned and his trial is set for March.
3/22: Kevorkian goes on trial (with lawyers in tow, contrary to rumors of self-representation).
3/26: Kevorkian is found guilty of second-degree murder.
4/13: Kevorkian is sentenced to 10 - 25 years in prison.