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Published March 15, 2011, 01:53 PM

Judge: Minn. man guilty of online aiding suicides

FARIBAULT, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota man accused of seeking depressed people online and encouraging two to kill themselves has been found guilty of aiding the suicides of an English man and Canadian woman.

FARIBAULT, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota man accused of seeking depressed people online and encouraging two to kill themselves has been found guilty of aiding the suicides of an English man and Canadian woman.

Forty-eight-year-old William Melchert-Dinkel (MEL'-kurt DINK'-ehl) faced two counts of aiding suicide in the 2005 hanging death of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England, and the 2008 death of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a river.

Melchert-Dinkel declined a jury trial and left his fate to a judge, who issued his verdict Tuesday.

Prosecutors say Melchert-Dinkel cruised chat rooms for depressed people, posed as a female, feigned compassion, and entered fake suicide pacts or gave instructions on how they could die.

His attorney says the two already planned to die and that his actions were protected speech.

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